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Casey Goodson Update: Death At Deputy's Hand Is Ruled A Homicide

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 Dec. 4 has been ruled a homicide by the Franklin County Coroner's Office.
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 Dec. 4 has been ruled a homicide by the Franklin County Coroner's Office.

The death of Casey Goodson, a Black man killed Friday by a Franklin County sheriff's deputy in Columbus, Ohio, has been ruled a homicide, according to a statement from Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz.

The preliminary findings come five days after Goodson, 23, was shot under disputed circumstances. Law enforcement officials have said Goodson was waving a gun when a deputy shot him, but the man's family says that he was carrying a sandwich bag and had just unlocked the door to his own home.

"Based on findings from the autopsy and medical death investigation, manner of death is homicide," Ortiz's office wrote in a press release Wednesday morning.

The cause of death remains preliminary, as the coroner's office has not yet received medical records or a toxicology report in the case. But the office added, "However, based on the current findings, cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds to the torso."

Goodson's relatives say he was shot three times in the back; the coroner's statement does not describe the bullets' entry point, nor provide any other details about Goodson's wounds.

The Justice Department said Tuesday it is joining the investigation into Goodson's death, saying it will review the evidence for any sign that federal civil rights laws were violated.

"Goodson's family has raised multiple objections to the initial account of his death, saying that Goodson was shot while coming back from the dentist," member station WOSU's Paige Pfleger reports. "Family members say he had just unlocked the side door to the house and was carrying Subway sandwiches for his family."

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says one of its deputies — Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the force – is the law enforcement officer who fired his gun at Goodson. At the time of the shooting, Meade was assigned full-time to a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force. His team had just finished a search for "violent suspects" when Meade shot Goodson, police investigators said.

"Goodson was not the object of the search, according to police, nor was he wanted by law enforcement," as NPR's Brakkton Booker has reported.

The Columbus Division of Police, which is investigating the killing, has said that Meade "reported witnessing a man with a gun. The deputy was investigating the situation, and there are reports of a verbal exchange. The deputy fired at Mr. Casey Goodson, resulting in his death."

The police say a gun was recovered from Goodson; his family issued a statement through their attorney saying in part, "Casey was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and Ohio does not prohibit the open carrying of firearms."

There are no body-camera recordings of the shooting; police say that deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office aren't issued body-worn cameras. The force also said that no other law enforcement officers witnessed the incident. The family's attorney says it was witnessed by Goodson's grandmother and two toddlers.

A final autopsy report will likely take around 12 to 14 weeks to complete, Ortiz's office said in the brief statement about the controversial killing.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.