COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Officials approved $2.5 million in funding Wednesday to allow the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to purchase body cameras less than two weeks after a deputy fatally shot a Black man, resulting in an outcry by the public on the lack of footage of the encounter.
“Body cameras help provide transparency to the public and can also help vindicate deputies when complaints are made against them,” Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in a statement.
The Franklin County Commissioners began discussions on funding for body cameras for the Sheriff’s Office following a wave of protests in Columbus over the summer in response to the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Lousiville, Kentucky, at the hands of police.
But movement on the status of funding began to pick up after Deputy Jason Meade fatally shot 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4 in a northside neighborhood of Columbus.
No video of the shooting has emerged. The lack of footage and images makes it more difficult to investigate, criminal justice experts said, noting how official and witness videos have impacted other cases involving police shootings.
Meade had been assigned to a U.S. Marshals Office fugitive task force on Dec. 4 and had just finished an unsuccessful search for a fugitive Friday afternoon.
U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said that on the day of the shooting, Meade confronted Goodson outside his home after Goodson, who was not the subject of the fugitive search, drove by and waved a gun at Meade.
Tamala Payne, Goodson’s mother, said her son had gone to the dentist that morning, and then returned with sandwiches for himself, his 5-year-old brother and his grandmother. He was shot after he unlocked and opened the front door, Payne said. Goodson was taken to a hospital where he died.
One witness heard Meade command Goodson to drop his gun, and when he didn’t, the deputy shot him, Tobin said. Goodson’s family has said no weapon was found when his body was found in the kitchen. Meade’s attorney, Mark Collins, disputes the family’s account and said Goodson pointed his gun at Meade, a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.
Goodson had a concealed weapon permit and had hoped to become a firearms instructor, his mother and her attorney, Sean Walton, said Wednesday.
Police have said that a gun was recovered from the scene but have not provided further details.
Preliminary autopsy results showed Goodson died from multiple gunshot wounds in his torso, the Franklin County coroner said. Final results aren’t expected for at least three months. The autopsy did not state whether Goodson was shot in the back or the front, but relatives say he was shot three times in the back.
The state declined a request by Columbus police to review the shooting after Republican Attorney General Dave Yost said the police department waited three days to ask for the state to take the case and after the crime scene had been dismantled.
The case was initially given to city police because the sheriff’s office does not oversee investigations of its own deputies in fatal shootings. Federal investigators, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI in Cincinnati and the Columbus police are now investigating the case together.
Since the shooting, both the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Marshals’ office have distanced themselves from Meade.
Tobin said Friday that Meade’s work on behalf of a Marshals fugitive task force had ended when the shooting happened.
In response, Sheriff Baldwin said if he believed Meade was working on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office when he shot Goodson, he would have called the state’s criminal investigations unit to get involved immediately, as opposed to eight days later.
The conflicting narratives from the three divisions of law enforcement, Columbus police, U.S. Marshals Office and the Sheriff’s Office, have begun to distort public trust in the investigation.
“At the beginning of the investigation, officials assumed the shooting was justified,” Sarah Gelsominio, an attorney for the victim’s family said. “As a result, this investigation has been tainted.”