COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A preliminary autopsy report of a Black man killed by an Ohio deputy last week showed clear signs of him being shot in the back multiple times, an attorney for the victim’s family said Thursday.
“Casey was not a suspect in any way shape or form,” said Sean Walton, one of the attorneys for Casey Goodson Jr.’s family. “Casey was just someone who was killed on his kitchen floor simply because he was a Black man and his skin was weaponized.”
Attorneys and relatives of Goodson, 23, said he was killed Friday by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Jason Meade, as he walked through the front doorway of his grandmother’s Columbus house.
Preliminary autopsy results released Wednesday showed Goodson died from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso. Final results aren’t expected for at least three months. The family announced Thursday that they will conduct their own, independent autopsy.
The Franklin County coroner listed the cause of death as a homicide — a medical determination used in cases where someone has died at someone else’s hand, but not a legal finding. It doesn’t imply criminal intent.
Police have only said that the deputy “shot” Goodson without detailing how many shots were fired.
Two 911 callers reported hearing multiple gunshots that day, according to copies of those calls released Wednesday to The Associated Press.
“Four shots fired from what sounded like an automatic weapon,” one caller said.
Meade, the deputy who shot Goodson, is a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.
Meade is fully cooperating with authorities and disputing claims made by Goodson’s family, his attorney Mark Collins said in an email Thursday to the AP.
“Mr. Goodson pointed his gun at Deputy Meade,” Collins said. “There has been confirmation that our client gave verbal commands for Mr. Goodson to drop the gun.”
Collins added the victim’s family deserves a “thorough and transparent” investigation but asserted there are a number of misstatements circulating about his client.
Meade had been assigned to a U.S. Marshals Office fugitive task force that had just finished an unsuccessful search for a fugitive Friday afternoon.
U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said that on the day of the shooting, Meade confronted the victim outside his home after Goodson, who was not the subject of the fugitive search, drove by and waved a gun at Meade.
One witness heard Meade command the victim to drop his gun, and when he didn’t, the deputy shot him, Tobin said. Goodson was taken to a hospital where he died.
The family said Goodson had a sandwich, not a gun, in his hand.
Goodson had a concealed weapon permit and had hoped to become a firearms instructor, his mother and Walton said.
Police have said that a gun was recovered from the scene but have not provided further details.
“No one in the family saw Casey brandishing a weapon. Casey followed all safety protocols with his licensed weapons,” Chandra Brown, another attorney for the victim’s family said Thursday. “It would have been out of his character to brandish any weapon.”
Collins said: “At no time did Deputy Meade mistake a sandwich for a gun.”
Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, said her son had gone to the dentist that morning and then returned with sandwiches for himself, his 5-year-old brother and his grandmother. He was shot after he unlocked and opened the front door, Payne said.
The state declined a request by Columbus police to review the shooting after Republican Attorney General Dave Yost said the police department waited three days to ask for the state to take the case. The case was initially given to city police because the sheriff’s office does not oversee such investigations of its own deputies.
Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan on Thursday promised an independent and unbiased investigation into the truth of what happened.
“We understand the trust gap borne of centuries of injustice against communities of color in our country, and yes, right here in our hometown,” Quinlan tweeted.
Advocates, Goodson’s relatives and lawyers for the family have called the fatal shooting another case of a Black man dying at the hands of police and believe the case is riddled with bias.
“From the moment of the shooting, Casey was treated as a subject. He was treated as a criminal,” said Sarah Gelsomino, one of the lawyers representing the victim’s family.
No video of the shooting has emerged. The sheriff’s office does not provide officers with body cameras, and the deputy’s SWAT vehicle did not have a dash-mounted camera.
Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.