Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Columbus, Ohio last week. Now, for the first time, his mother is speaking out about his death. Tamala Payne, Goodson's mom, says she wants answers about why her son was shot by Franklin County sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade.
"My son was murdered in cold blood, and we don't have no answers as to why he was murdered," Payne told CBS News. "It is not a question to me at all at this time if my son was murdered or not."
There is currently a lot of confusion and conflicting stories surrounding the events that led up to Goodson’s death. The U.S. Marshals (for whom Meade was working as part of the U.S. Marshals’ Service Fugitive Task Force), Columbus Division of Police, and Goodson’s family all have varying accounts about what happened to Goodson, who was shot while entering his grandmother’s house with Subway sandwiches for his family.
On Friday, December 4, Casey Goodson Jr. was found dead after being shot in the doorway of his family's home while returning from a dentist's appointment. Police photos show Goodson’s keys were in the door to his grandmother’s apartment and a bag from Subway was lying on the floor next to where he was slain. Police have said there were no witnesses to the shooting and there is no body camera footage.
Goodson’s grandmother, Sharon Payne, called 9-1-1 from the scene. At the time, she did not know who had shot her grandson, and did not know it was a police officer. "My grandson just got shot in the back when he come in the house," Payne told the operator, according to CNN. "I don't know if he's OK or not 'cause, he's still out there." Goodson’s death has since been ruled a homicide, with official cause of death being listed as “multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.”
But it's the accounts leading up to a confrontation with police that seem to be causing confusion. According to U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin, Goodson was "seen driving down the street waving a gun," and "at some point after that, [the deputy] confronted him, and it went badly." Meade, the officer who shot him, was reportedly searching for “violent offenders” as part of his work on the task force, though Goodson was not the person the task force was seeking.
On Wednesday, Columbus police issued a statement in response to Tobin’s version of events, saying, "Statements made by representatives of other agencies involved in Friday's Task Force operation were viewpoints expressed by those not involved and without knowledge of the investigation."
Meanwhile, the Columbus Division of Police’s statement says that Meade saw “a man with a gun” and that there were “reports of a verbal exchange” before the shooting. Their statement reports that Goodson was carrying a gun but does not indicate that he had been waving it around before he was shot. Goodson’s family does not know if he had a gun on him at the time of the shooting, but said it’s possible, as he had a concealed carry permit and Ohio is an open carry state. As Sean Walton, the family’s attorney noted, carrying a permitted weapon “is not a crime at all.”
Walton's firm said in a statement that despite the homicide charge, they are still concerned about the details being omitted by police in the reporting of this case. “Casey was shot and killed as he unlocked his door and entered his home,” the firm said. “His death was witnessed by his 72-year-old grandmother and two toddlers who were near the door.”
This also comes after nearly six months of protests and activists movements fighting against police brutality of Black Americans. Following the police shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others in 2020, advocates are calling for further action and investigation into Meade and any other officers at the scene of Goodson's killing. "Casey Goodson Jr. is yet another young Black man who should be alive today. Our hearts break for another family who has lost a son at the hands of the police," Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted. "I join the Columbus NAACP & Mr. Goodson’s family in calling for a full investigation of this tragedy."
As it stands, the family can only speculate about what went wrong last Friday. "That's all we have, because we have no statement from Jason Meade: We have Casey's keys in the door, his keys," Walton said. "We have the Subway sandwiches, all three on the floor next to a pool of blood."
Goodson’s family also says they will not stop demanding answers until they are found. "My question is, 'Why was my son murdered?'" Payne asked CBS News. "And unfortunately, the coward that took his life does not have enough guts to answer the questions as to why my son's life was taken." In another statement to the press, Payne added: "The only threat my son was, was being a Black man in America.”