This undated photo provided by family attorney Sean Walton shows Casey Goodson. The fatal shooting of 23-year-old Goodson by an Ohio sheriff's deputy on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, is now under investigation by the state's criminal investigation bureau.
Mother of man fatally shot entering own home speaks out
05:57 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Casey Goodson’s grandmother told a 911 dispatcher that he had been shot in the back and she wasn’t sure if he was breathing moments after his fatal encounter with a law enforcement officer at his Ohio home, according to an audio recording of the call.

Goodson, 23, was shot on Friday by a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, identified as deputy Jason Meade. Authorities are investigating what happened that day and say Goodson was brandishing a gun before he was shot.

Sharon Payne, Goodson’s grandmother, told the operator that people were preventing her from seeing her grandson, according to the two-minute recording obtained by CNN on Wednesday from the Columbus Division of Police.

“My grandson just got shot in the back when he come in the house,” Payne told the operator. “I don’t know if he’s OK or not ‘cause, he’s still out there.”

Payne told the dispatcher she heard gunfire and found her grandson lying in a doorway. Cries could be heard in the call’s background.

“OK, OK, and nobody saw anything prior to this?,” the operator asked.

“No. He went to the dentist or somewhere and came home,” Payne replied. “All I know is there’s a bunch of gunfire. He’s not a bad kid. He doesn’t have a police record. He works. I don’t know what happened.”

Sharon Payne said she did not know who shot her grandson. The call ended with police ordering everyone out of the house. The operator told Goodson’s grandmother that police were arriving with paramedics.

Goodson, an Ohio concealed carry permit holder, was legally armed at the time of the shooting, according to the Columbus Division of Police. Goodson, who was Black, was not alleged to have committed any crimes, has no criminal background and was not the target of any investigation, family attorney Sean Walton told CNN.

A review of court records did not show more than minor, traffic-related offenses for Goodson.

Peter Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said a fugitive task force was wrapping up an unrelated investigation when a deputy saw a man with a gun.

“He was seen driving down the street waving a gun,” Tobin told reporters. “That’s when the deputy, at some point after that, he confronted him.”

Tobin said that during the confrontation the man “allegedly started to pull a gun and the officer fired.” He added that the shooting appeared justified but would be investigated.

Authorities have not released additional information, though, that might shed light on whether the shooting was lawful, nor provided an accounting of Meade’s actions prior to the shooting.

The US Marshal’s office hasn’t commented, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has referred calls to Columbus Division of Police, who has not responded to requests for comment.

Mother says ‘kid had a whole life ahead of him’

Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, said her son was “executed” and is calling for murder charges against Meade.

“I want justice. I want murder charges. If it was my son, he would be in jail right now with murder charges. If it was me, I would be sitting in jail with murder charges,” Payne said in a statement released by attorneys representing the family.

“The only threat my son was, was being a Black man in America,” Payne added.

Goodson was returning from the dental appointment when he was fatally shot, and in that moment, his family lost a young man who “would not have harmed a fly,” according toTamala Payne.

“The kid had a whole life ahead of him,” Tamala Payne told CNN’s Don Lemon, adding that he was saving up to go into business for himself. “He had plans, he had dreams, he had goals, and they were ripped from him for nothing.”

Tamala Payne said her son stopped at Subway on his way home from the dentist to get sandwiches for himself, his 5-year-old brother and his 72-year-old grandmother. He was fatally shot as he entered their home.

“His body fell into the house with the sandwiches, with the bullet holes …” said his mother. “If my son was given a command, he would have listened.”

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday said the manner of death, based on autopsy and medical death investigation findings, was homicide, though a final report was 12 to 14 weeks away.

“Cause of death, at this time is preliminary; we are awaiting medical records as well as the toxicology report,” Dr. Anahi M. Ortiz, in a statement, said of the autopsy performed on Tuesday. “However, based on current findings, cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.”

The preliminary autopsy does not answer key questions about the deputy’s actions, attorneys representing his family said in a statement Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, Deputy Jason Meade has not given any indication as to why he confronted and killed Casey that day. Until he does, the family and larger community can only assume that Casey was targeted and killed as the result of a systemic issue related to racist policing that kills black people just for living their lives,” attorney Sean Walton said.

“In the absence of a statement from Meade, or any kind of justification from his department, we have no choice but to believe this was another shameful example of a Black man’s skin being weaponized against him despite no wrongdoing on his part.”

Payne and Walton described Goodson as law-abiding and peaceful.

“Casey was a person who did everything right, and so what happened that day that caused the deputy to take the life of a Black man as he walked into his own home?” Walton asked.

A ruling of homicide only means Goodson was killed by another person, and the ruling was expected since authorities acknowledge he was shot by Meade.

Separately, Columbus Police investigators are examining whether Meade was legally justified in shooting Goodson, and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and the FBI are launching a federal civil rights investigation.

“This offers the highest level of transparency and a clear path to the truth,” Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said.

Task force looking for violent offenders, not Goodson

Meade was working for the US Marshal’s fugitive task force looking for violent offenders at the time, but Goodson was not the person being sought by the task force, Columbus Police said.

During the task force operations, Meade reported seeing a man with a gun and was investigating the situation when there was reportedly a verbal exchange prior to the shooting, the Columbus Division of Police said.

According to police, no other officers witnessed the shooting, no civilian eyewitnesses have been identified and there is no body camera footage of the actual shooting because Franklin County Sheriff’s task force officers aren’t issued body cameras.

CNN sought comment from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which referred inquiries to the Columbus Division of Police Critical Incident and Response Team because the shooting involved one of its deputies.

Additional 911 calls released by the Columbus police show that Goodson’s cousin called to report the shooting.

“I don’t know, somebody (broke) into the house and shot my cousin” she said. “I don’t know, they look like police… I don’t even know what is going on.”

Another caller said it sounded like an automatic weapon had been fired, and another said her daughter was upset after hearing the gunfire.

Rallies set for later this week

The shooting has left the Black community in Columbus reeling, and rallies calling for justice in Goodson’s case are set for Friday and Saturday in Columbus.

Local civil rights activists say police brutality against Black people in this central Ohio city is nothing new.

Law enforcement in Columbus has long had a strained relationship with the Black community because of its past shootings of young Black men and aggressive policing in Black neighborhoods, said Kiara Yakita, founder of the Black Liberation Movement of Central Ohio.

Among the Black men and teens killed by Columbus police in recent years were Julius Tate, a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by an officer in December 2018 during a sting operation; Kareem Ali Nadir Jones, a 30-year-old who was fatally shot by officers in July 2017; Tyre King, a 13-year-old killed by police in September 2016; and Henry Green, a 23-year-old shot dead by plainclothes officers in June 2016.

Movement for Black Lives leaders said they believe Goodson was “executed.”

“A crisis of this magnitude calls for a massive realignment of power,” said Chelsea Fuller, a Columbus-based spokeswoman for the Movement for Black Lives. “That realignment can and will happen through defunding the police, reducing their bloated budgets, and reinvesting those resources in the creation of new systems of public safety that account for all lives, not just some.”

Yakita said Black residents feel exhausted, especially after joining the nation in protesting police brutality and racism all summer.

“We are feeling helplessness, hopelessness and hurt,” Yakita said. “It’s like we did all of that for nothing.”

Morgan Harper, a local community activist, said police in Columbus have a history of treating Black people differently.

“It’s depressing, really,” Harper said. “And I think people were already feeling vulnerable that we can’t feel protected in our own communities. That young Black men and Black women, we face an undue level of risk just living.”

Columbus’ racial tension goes beyond policing. Black residents say the town’s history of redlining, segregation and gentrification of Black neighborhoods has also been a boiling point.

Columbus is the fourth most economically segregated metro area in the country, according to a study the University of Toronto. The city is 59% White and 28% Black.

Federal and local authorities investigate

Even though the shooting did not involve a Columbus Police officer, the Columbus Police Critical Incident and Response Team is the primary agency investigating the shooting because it occurred in Columbus.

Once Columbus Police completes its investigation, the evidence will be turned over to the Franklin County prosecutor to be presented to a grand jury, police said.

Columbus Police had on Monday attempted to turn over the investigation to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the state agency that typically investigates police-involved shootings. But the BCI announced that they would not be able to accept the case because of an unexplained delay in the request.

“We received a referral to take a three-day old officer-involved shooting case. Not knowing all the reasons as to why so much time has passed before the case was referred to BCI, we cannot accept this case,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that the BCI has a memorandum of understanding with Columbus Police that says the state agency should be the first call after a police shooting.

“BCI is the first call because we cannot be the subject matter experts unless we’re on scene from the beginning to document the evidence of what happened from the start,” Yost said in a statement Monday. “Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witness(es) have all dispersed does not work.”

Columbus Police said Chief Quinlan’s interest in having BCI involved in the case was “based solely on reassuring the public of maximum independence in the investigation of this tragedy.” The department added that the Attorney General’s decision to not take the case has not interrupted the investigation.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess, Nicquel Terry Ellis, Hollie Silverman, Amir Vera, Eric Levenson, Devon Sayers and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.