'6 shots in the back': Murder trial opens in police shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr.

Former deputy Jason Meade has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

January 31, 2024, 11:00 AM

Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of a former sheriff's deputy charged in the 2020 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old Black man who was entering his grandmother's home in Columbus, Ohio. The trial begins more than three years after Casey Goodson Jr.'s death.

Jason Meade, a former deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office (FCSO), was charged with murder and reckless homicide in December 2021 in connection with the shooting. Meade, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"Six shots in the back," special prosecutor Gary Shroyer said in his opening statement Wednesday. "All fired by the defendant into the back of Casey Goodson with no reasonable basis for the defendant to perceive a threat by Casey. It's an unjustified shooting. Casey was only 23 years old at the time the defendant killed him. [Meade] was a Franklin County County Deputy at the time. Casey's death is a tremendous loss to his family."

Defense attorney Kaitlyn Stephens said in her opening statement, "Now with the benefit of hindsight, nobody here in this courtroom is disputing how tragic the events were, on December 4, 2020. And it is not lost on us that somebody lost a life, somebody lost a son, a brother and a friend."

Addressing the jury, Stephens asked that "you remind yourself of that instruction that the judge gave you ... that as you took that oath as a juror, you are not to consider sympathy or empathy when you analyze that case. And so every time they play it, remind yourself of what the law requires."

On Dec. 4, 2020, Meade was working with a U.S. Marshals task force searching for a wanted fugitive when he claims he saw Goodson waving a gun erratically from inside his car and then began tracking Meade, according to a December 2021 statement from Meade's lawyers.

Casey Goodson, 23, of Columbus, Ohio, pictured in an undated handout photo, was shot and killed by a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy on Dec. 4, 2020.
Family of Casey Goodson

The former deputy claims he then followed Goodson home. Meade alleges that Goodson had a pistol in his right hand and a plastic bag in his left hand as he stood outside the door of his grandmother's house, where he lived. Meade said he screamed at Goodson several times to show his hands but his commands were ignored, according to his attorneys' statement.

When Goodson eventually turned to face the former deputy, Meade alleges Goodson pointed the barrel of the gun in Meade's direction, so the deputy fired his weapon. Meade's legal team declined ABC News' request for comment Tuesday.

Police said a gun was found at the scene, but Goodson's family said he was a legal gun owner. Goodson's family claims he was returning from a dentist's appointment, carrying a Subway sandwich and was wearing AirPods when Meade approached him and didn't hear the officer's commands.

In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo, a person holds a sign in front of the Ohio Statehouse during a protest over the killing of Casey Goodson Jr. by law enforcement in Columbus, Ohio.
Stephen Zenner/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Because Franklin County Sheriff's task force officers are not issued body cameras, no video of the incident exists.

An autopsy report by the Franklin County Coroner's Office said Goodson had been shot five times in the back and six times in total.

Nearly a year after the fatal shooting, on Dec. 2, 2021, a grand jury announced they had found enough evidence to charge Meade with two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide in the shooting death of Goodson.

Following news of the indictment, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin released a statement saying, in part, "I've reminded my staff that while everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the standards for being a Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy must be even higher than that of our criminal justice system."

Meade retired after 17 years with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in June 2021. Meade had been on administrative leave since the shooting, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.