The federal government is joining an investigation into the shooting of Casey Goodson Jr., a Black man who was killed by a Sheriff’s Deputy in Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 4.
The U.S. Attorney in Ohio, the FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Columbus Police Department will work together to investigate the latest high-profile police shooting of a Black man, despite there being no reported witnesses or body camera footage of the incident.
Goodson, 23, was at his front door— reportedly with his key in the door’s lock—when he was killed.
On Dec. 9, the Franklin County coroner’s office released their initial findings of the autopsy, revealing that Goodson was shot multiple times in the torso.
In a statement released Dec. 6 on social media, the Columbus Police Department claimed that the deputy responsible, who they identified as James Meade, saw a man believed to be Goodson with a gun while driving. This led to Meade approaching Goodson after he exited his car and walked towards his home, where he was shot.
During a Thursday press conference, Goodson’s mother Tamala Payne said that Goodson’s grandmother and two young children were in the house when Goodson was killed.
“My grandson just got shot in the back when he came in the house,” Goodson’s grandmother told a 911 dispatcher, according to the Associated Press. “I don’t know if he’s okay.” Goodson’s family were not given any updates on his condition at the scene, the family says, even as his body was taken to the hospital.
“We will never be the same and we still don’t have answers as to why. What did he do? Why did he deserve this,” Payne said during the press conference.
Sean Walton, an attorney for the family, says that from the moment of the shooting, Goodson and his family have been treated as suspects and criminals by law enforcement.
“The suspect here is Jason Meade,” Walton said during the press conference.
Meade was working in the area with the U.S. Marshals as part of a fugitive task force. But Goodson was not a target of the task force and has no criminal history.
The CPD’s Dec. 6 statement added that there were “reports of a verbal exchange”—though, having noted that no other officers were at the scene, and no civilians witnessed the shooting, it is not clear who made such reports—and that a gun was recovered from the scene.
Payne said no one in the house heard an altercation, however—they only heard gunshots. Family members did not see a gun at the scene, though Goodson also licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
“A number of inaccurate statements” have been circulating, the CPD’s statement read, “which can only add to the pain and confusion of such a tragic situation.”
But Walton points to the CPD’s own statement as inaccurate.
“Key information has been left out of the narrative. [The police department] hasn’t disclosed how many times he was shot, where he was shot and most importantly what Casey did that led to the officer taking his life,” Walton previously told TIME. “The family has no answers and the public has no answers.”
Goodson’s family are disputing law enforcement’s version of events, Walton says. Furthermore, they do not believe Meade’s actions—firing after Goodson had exited his vehicle and was, allegedly, not engaging the officer—were justifiable.
“He wasn’t shot in the car, he wasn’t shot near the car. He was killed as he walked into his home,” adds Sarah Gelsomino, another attorney representing the Goodson family.
Goodson was the oldest of 10 children; according to Walton, he was a father figure for his younger siblings. He had worked as a truck driver but found in recent months that his driving opportunities had slowed down amid the economic impact of COVID-19. He was most recently working at The Gap.
Goodson’s family has been left getting updates from local media, Walton continued—telling TIME that CPD has not provided any further details regarding his death. He also says the family has still not seen his body.
Responding to TIME’s request for a response on Walton’s claims, the CPD pointed to its Dec. 6 statement and offered no further comment
On Dec. 4, hours after the incident, Peter Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, held a press conference alleging that Meade shot Goodson after he refused to drop his weapon. Tobin added that he already believed the shooting was justified.
“That in itself is extremely concerning for the family,” Walton says.
Payne has called for any ensuing protests in support of her son to be peaceful.
“I am calling for justice. That is all I’m calling for,” Payne said.
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