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Family Of Casey Goodson Jr. Says Coroner Confirmed He Was Shot In Back

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.

Since Casey Goodson Jr. died at the hands of Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade in December, Goodson's family has maintained he was shot in the back. They now say the county coroner confirmed that claim.

Goodson’s mother Tamala Payne says Franklin County Coroner's Office gave her the information from the initial autopsy a month ago. Coroner Anahi Ortiz has not released the official report and has not publicly confirmed the family’s statements.

Payne says the coroner and deputy coroner told her Goodson suffered a total of six gunshot wounds, five in the back and one in the buttock, all of which struck Goodson from behind.

Payne also says the autopsy showed some of the bullets passed through another object before striking 23-year-old Goodson. The family believes this confirms their suspicion that Goodson was shot through an exterior door of the home.

"It is extremely painful to suffer through a situation like this, especially when you don’t have any answers,” Payne said in a statement Thursday. “It was important for my family to know exactly how many times Casey was shot and where he was shot. I want to share this information with the public as we ask for support in calling for the prosecution of Jason Meade."

WOSU has requested comment from the Franklin County Coroner. 

The circumstances surrounding the December 4 shooting remain unclear. According to the U.S. Marshal, Meade was part of a task force carrying out an unsuccessful search for a suspect in the Northland area of Columbus when deputies encountered Goodson, who was reportedly "driving down the street waving a gun." Although Goodson was neither the suspect that officers were searching for, nor the subject of any investigation, Meade followed Goodson and confronted him at his home.

In an emailed statement, Sheriff Dallas Baldwin expressed sympathy for the family but urged caution in drawing conclusions.

"I can’t imagine the pain that Casey Goodson’s mother is going through. This was unquestionably a tragedy and I encourage everyone to join me in praying for those affected by it," Baldwin writes. "Like everyone in our community, I want answers about Casey Goodson’s death as soon as possible. However, we don’t know what the Franklin County Coroner may have said, and the information relayed by Ms. Payne doesn’t have all of the facts needed to give us those answers."

Baldwin went on to say that existing policy prohibits use of force "against anyone who doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the officer or to others" and that he will hold Meade accountable if the investigation shows he violated that policy.

"However, I also want to emphasize that criminal investigations over the years have shown that the physical location of gunshot wounds alone don’t always tell the entire story of what happened," Baldwin writes.

There is no footage of the shooting, because Meade – like other sheriff's deputies – was not equipped with a body camera. A lawyer for Meade claims that Goodson pointed a gun at the deputy during their encounter, and police say they recovered a gun from Goodson's body after he died.

Goodson's family disputes both allegations, contending that he was carrying a bag of sandwiches while entering his home. Family members also say they did not see a gun in Goodson's hand or near his body.

Ortiz said in early December that Goodson's death was likely caused by multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, but at did not specify the number of wounds or direction of the bullets. The full autopsy would take 12-14 weeks to be released, she said.

Meade is on paid administrative leave from the Franklin County Sheriff's office as the investigation proceeds. Goodson's family has called for Meade to be fired and arrested with murder, but no charges have been announced in the case yet.

A combined criminal-civil rights probe of Goodson's death was being ledby the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, but U.S. Attorney David DeVillers recently resigned at the request of the Biden administration.

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.