Casey Goodson was a 23-year old Black man who was shot dead on Friday, December 4th in Columbus, Ohio. His shooter? A deputy from the Franklin County Sheriff’s office. Casey’s killing, and the mysteries surrounding it, are beginning to gain attention. While his family tells one version of the story, the police are telling a very different one. And after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor this year, it’s hard not to feel rage that things may never change.
“Casey’s case is just another reminder that the work continues and that racism is everywhere and we have to do the hard work as a nation to root it out,” Shannon Hardin, the Columbus City Council President, told CNN. “Racism is a part of this country, part of our cities and a part of just who we are. And we can’t allow the challenges and how ubiquitous it is to overwhelm us in terms of where we go from here.”
Racism is a pervasive issue nationwide. But it seems particularly bad in Columbus, where Black people make up less than 29 percent of the population, according to CNN. Despite being a quarter of the city’s population, Black people account for almost 55 percent of their use-of-force incidents. Both the Columbus City Council and Franklin County passed resolutions calling systemic racism a public health crisis — but going so far as to directly acknowledge disparities Black people face like crime, health and poverty? Officials, unsurprisingly, seem to be failing to address those issues. The way the county is handling Casey Goodson’s case makes it abundantly clear that their progress was all lip service.
We should all have concerns over the fact that there’s only one person’s account of Casey Goodson’s killing. The fact that the only person who can tell the story is the person who committed the crime is concerning too. So many parts of this story are missing or contradictory, and it’s hard to know if anyone will ever get the truth. The police department gets to create their own narrative — and they’re already doing it.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy who shot Goodson is a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He’s also a part of the U.S. Marshalls task force. When he confronted Goodson by himself, he wasn’t wearing a body camera, as the department doesn’t require them. At the time of the alleged altercation he had with Goodson, he was searching for a “violent” suspect. If that’s true, why was he alone? I don’t know much about policing, but it seems foolish to send someone to look for violent people by themselves.
No additional word has been given about just who they were looking for, but it wasn’t Casey Goodson. So if they weren’t looking for him, how did the deputy just randomly find him? Goodson’s family maintains that they heard no noise outside until the gunshots. Surely if the deputy was going to confront Goodson about his gun, there’d be at least a siren? Or shouting? Or some other sort of alert to let the young man know trouble was ahead.
“Casey was shot as he was walking into his home, walked across the side door and put his keys in the door,” the family’s lawyer, Sean Walton told BuzzFeed News.
Yes, Casey Goodson had a gun in his possession. But he had a right to carry a concealed weapon license, according to his family. Unfortunately, the deputy never made it that far in his line of questioning and demands. All he did was demand Goodson put down the weapon. And then when Goodson ignored his request, he shot him. That’s it.
If Goodson did have his keys in the door as his family says, why shoot him in his back? His guard was down; there were plenty of other ways to take him down. Even if he was carrying a gun. It’s the “shoot first, ask questions later,” mentality that keeps killing Black people.
“It’s not enough at this point to just tell us [Goodson] is accused of waving a gun and something went wrong and he’s dead,” Walton said.
As of Sunday, December 6th, the deputy who shot Casey Goodson had yet to be questioned. When BuzzFeed News reached out on Tuesday, December 8th for a comment on if that had changed, their request went unanswered. The real question here is why wasn’t he questioned immediately? If someone is the witness to a crime, they need to share what happened, and the sooner the better. But it must work differently if the only witness is also the perpetrator. There’s some seriously shady shit going on, and I have a feeling we’ll never get the full answers.
If the lack of questioning isn’t shady enough, there’s more. If there’s an officer-involved shooting, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is usually first to be called to investigate. But not this time. While the Columbus mayor told people they were investigating, they were definitely not. Turns out, they waited three days to refer the case to the BCI. So the agency declined to take the case.
“BCI is the first call because we cannot be the subject matter experts unless we’re on scene from the beginning to document the evidence of what happened from the start,” according to a spokesperson and shared by BuzzFeed News. “Three days later after the crime scene was been dismantled and the witnesses have all dispersed does not work.”
Obviously, there’s something they’re trying to cover up. If this was a routine defense, then why be so secretive about everything? What do they know that’s causing them to not talk to the shooter? Too many questions with no answers.
On Wednesday, December 9th, the Franklin County Coroner’s office ruled Casey Goodson’s death a homicide. The full autopsy results can take 12 to 14 weeks because they’re still waiting for a toxicology report and medical records. So we won’t have a final ruling until early spring.
“Cause of death, at this time is preliminary; we are awaiting medical records as well as the toxicology report. However, based on the current findings, cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds to the torso,” the office said in a report.
As of right now, the coroner’s office declined to comment which side of Goodson’s torso the wounds are on. His family maintains that he was shot in the back, so we’re curious if those claims will be supported. If the final autopsy concurs with Goodson’s family’s claims, it will be very telling. But it’s hard to guess if we’ll ever get that detail.
Casey Goodson should still be alive. From what we know, nothing about his interaction with this officer indicates that he should have died. It’s outrageous enough that he was killed basically in his home. But to know that there’s a good chance we never get to hear the whole story is even more disheartening. We will never move forward if killings like this continue to happen. This is why movements like Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police exist; because as long as the current systems stay in place, Black people will never be safe in this country.
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