COLUMBUS, Ohio — U.S. Attorney David DeVillers for the Southern District of Ohio released a new statement Wednesday regarding details of the investigation into the shooting and killing of Casey Goodson Jr.
DeVillers, along with the Columbus Police Department, the F.B.I's Cincinnati office, and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department decided to open an investigation last week after The Ohio Attorney General’s office declined to open a case, saying it wasn't aware of the incident until three days after interviews with witnesses were completed.
Goodson, a 23-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade, 47, on Dec. 4 outside of his Northland home in Columbus upon returning from a dentist appointment, carrying sandwiches for his family.
Following recent uproar and protests, DeVillers' wrote he intends for the investigation to be as thorough and complete as it can be, and "follow the facts wherever they may lead."
"We are working in partnership with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. We are obligated to follow the facts wherever they may lead. I have been in contact with current Franklin County Prosecutor, Ron O’Brien, and incoming Franklin County Prosecutor, Gary Tyack. We are in agreement that the facts and the law could lead to federal charges, to state charges, or to no charges at all. This is an ongoing investigation and no determination of whether any charges—federal or state—are warranted has been made," DeVillers wrote.
DeVillers' clarified there's only one criminal investigation in the works, but it's also a joint investigation.
"Our goal is to conduct a thorough and accurate investigation without compromising the integrity and legitimacy of the investigation. This means we must balance the public’s interest in the investigation with a potential defendant’s right to a fair trial," DeVillers wrote.
DeVillers wrote he has met with the family and explained the process in detail with them.
Nearly two weeks after the incident, Meade has yet to meet with authorities to discuss the case.
Meade, a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and a pastor at Rosedale Baptist Church, fired shots at Goodson. Preliminary autopsy results ruled there were three shots that killed Goodson.
But it's not known what led to the confrontation.
Details from witnesses didn't help put the pieces together, and there's no body camera footage since the department doesn't have the technology. Right now, authorities are relying on possible security camera footage from homes and Meade's statement — whenever he decides to speak with investigators.
All that's really known about the case is that Meade shot Goodson, and what was found at the scene were sandwiches, Goodson's mask, his keys and a gun — one that Goodson was licensed to carry. It's not known whether authorities recovered it from him or if it was laying on the ground.
Peter Tobin, the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, released a statement on Dec. 4 regarding the case, but then backtracked soon after, saying he spoke prematurely.
In the initial statement, Tobin claimed Goodson had waved a gun at Meade while driving by. Tobin also claimed a SWAT deputy confronted Goodson and asked him to drop his gun, which he cited from one witness statement.
Tobin then released a statement after that, saying not all the details of the investigation are known, and he spoke too early on the case. He hasn't clarified which parts may be inaccurate or solidified.
Goodson's grandmother claimed she witnessed the altercation, and that he was shot in the back. But 911 calls and preliminary autopsy results can't prove either of those things. The results didn't say whether he was shot from the front or the back, and in the 911 call, Goodson's grandmother said she didn't see what happened.
Meade's attorney released a statement, saying the deputy acted in self-defense, claiming Goodson pointed a gun at him. The attorney representing the Goodson family rebuttled, saying at no point did any investigators directly involved with the case say that Goodson pointed a gun at Meade.
The case is still under investigation, and no new details have emerged since last week.
Following the back-and-forth statements from the attorneys, community members began scheduling protests, calling for justice and accountability in the case.
The protests started the night of Dec. 11 in downtown Columbus, where demonstrators marched around the city. On Saturday, another rally was held at the Statehouse were Goodson's family spoke alongside his friends.
"He was an honorable man. He was a brave man," said Tamala Payne, his mother. "I want justice."
Speakers took turns talking about who Goodson was, and how they believed he would never even think of waving a gun at an officer.
After gathering at the Statehouse, demonstrators took the streets to march around the city. Organizers also handed out sandwiches and keys, saying they were the only items Goodson was holding when he was shot and killed.
On Sunday, protesters went to Meade's church.
“Your pastor is a murderer,” said one demonstrator, while church members and the pastor working at the time defended Meade, saying, "There's two sides to every story."
A sheriff's deputy then arrived on the scene, and the demonstrators left.
Although there are rumblings of protests happening again this weekend, nothing has been confirmed.