U.S. Marshal says it was ‘premature’ for him to say Casey Goodson Jr. shooting appeared ‘justified’


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. 

Peter Nickeas, CNN

(CNN) — The US Marshal who initially asserted a deputy’s fatal shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. appeared “justified” said his statement was premature and based on insufficient information after the Columbus, Ohio, mayor blasted the Marshal for his remarks.

Jason Meade, a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s fugitive task force, shot Goodson on Dec. 4 in Columbus. Following the shooting, the US Marshal for that region, Peter Tobin, provided an account of the shooting at the scene and predicted it would be ruled justified.

A week later, with protests looming, the US Marshal’s Office released a statement saying Tobin spoke prematurely and with insufficient information. Tobin’s statement didn’t address the factual assertions he had made after the shooting or provide any additional clarity about the interaction between Meade and Goodson before the deputy shot him.

“I previously provided commentary after arriving at the scene of the incident and made statements based on insufficient information that I received prior to the beginning of the official investigation into the shooting incident,” Tobin’s statement read. “It was premature for me to provide any opinion, conclusion, or other information about the facts of the incident. Other law enforcement agencies are engaged in an independent, thorough investigation of this incident.”

Tobin also sought to distance the federal law enforcement agency from the actions of the deputy, saying the “officer was acting on his own and in his independent authority” when he encountered and shot Goodson, a 23-year-old Black man who Columbus Police said was legally armed at the time. Goodson is an Ohio concealed carry permit holder.

The statement comes after Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a series of tweets Friday that he has heard “over and over that statements made last Friday indicated the outcome of the investigation was predetermined.”

“That is not the case,” Ginther wrote. “US Marshal Pete Tobin said it appeared the shooting was justified. He was wrong to make a statement, and his words were inappropriate, uninformed and damaged the public’s trust in the investigation.”

The mayor added local and federal authorities are “committed to following the evidence, getting to the truth and providing answers to Mr. Goodson’s family and the community.”

The shooting, the latest in a series in recent years involving young Black men and teens in the city, is now the subject of a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio and a separate investigation by Columbus Division of Police’s critical incident response team.

Law enforcement officials at all the agencies involved, at federal, local and state levels, have released very little information about the shooting. Two 911 calls released by Columbus police revealed a chaotic scene after the shooting, with Goodson’s relatives not sure at first if a police officer had shot him. Personnel records reviewed by CNN also showed Meade had been involved in a prior shooting in nearby Pike County, though he and other deputies were cleared in that shooting by a grand jury and an internal affairs investigation.

The day of the shooting, Tobin said the task force members were taking off their gear after an unsuccessful search when Goodson “was seen” driving down the street waving a gun, though he didn’t specify who saw Goodson waving a gun.

At some point later, Meade confronted Goodson and then shot him to death.

Goodson’s mother says he was shot as he tried entering his home after returning from the dentist and Subway, a quick stop he made to get sandwiches for his 5-year-old brother and 72-year-old grandmother. The two found Goodson lying on the ground, family attorney Sean Walton told CNN.

Meade’s attorney, Mark Collins, says Goodson pointed a gun at the deputy prior to the shooting.

Attorneys for Goodson’s family said “neither the City of Columbus nor any other investigatory agency has alleged that Casey Goodson pointed a gun before Meade pulled the trigger.”

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

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