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Franklin County Will Appoint Special Prosecutor For Casey Goodson Jr. Case

Casey Goodson Jr.'s mother and sister cry during the protest in December.
Paige Pfleger
Casey Goodson Jr.'s mother and sister cry during the protest in December.

Incoming Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack will tap a special prosecutor to handle the case of Casey Goodson Jr., who was fatally shot by Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade last month. 

Tyack, a Democrat, is being sworn in as county prosecutor Monday evening after nearly a quarter century with Republican Ron O’Brien at the helm. A swearing-in ceremony and victory celebration will be broadcast on Facebook Live.

“We’re facing unprecedented challenges in Franklin County: a pandemic, economic crisis, an ongoing movement for racial equality, and a record homicide rate for 2020 that isn’t showing signs of slowing in 2021,” Tyack wrote in an emailed statement. “There is much work to be done, but I am committed to working with our social agencies, law enforcement, and the broader community to strengthen public safety during my tenure.”

Tyack says newly elected Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner will administer the oath of office.

The shift to Tyack is a potentially significant one, and comes at a fraught moment for the Columbus area. The retired judge takes office as outrage simmers over the separate killings of two Black men by local law enforcement officers in December – Goodson and Andre Hill, who was fatally shot by since-fired Columbus Police officer Adam Coy.

During the campaign, Tyack criticized O’Brien for not pursuing allegations of police misconduct aggressively enough. In his 24 years as prosecutor, O'Brien had only secured one indictment of a Columbus officer for killing a civilian, and resisted calls from Columbus activists to appoint special prosecutors in the cases of Henry Green, Tyre King and more.

Still, Tyack thanked O'Brien for helping facilitate a smooth transition.

“I am grateful for the staff of the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office and their patience throughout the transition period, and am also grateful for Ron O’Brien’s assistance over the last two months,” Tyack wrote.

Tyack would likely turn over the Goodson case to a special prosecutor if state charges are brought against Meade, since the county prosecutor is the attorney for the Sheriff's Office. The criminal and civil rights investigations into Goodson's death is being led by the U.S. Attorney's Office in coordination with Columbus Police.

On his way out the door, O’Brien tapped Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as special prosecutor in the Hill case. State investigators in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation office are leading that case.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.