Recent Developments in the Shooting of Ohio CHL-holder Casey Goodson
In the week since I first wrote about the Dec. 4, 2020 police shooting of CHL-holder Casey Goodson, there have been a number of significant developments.
Before I get to documenting some of them, I want to address the negative reaction some people had to my initial story.
Nothing about my coverage of this case is intended to cast judgment on either the deputy's or Casey's actions.
As I wrote on December 9, "Most will agree that it is best to withhold judgment until all the facts come in. But I hope that all concealed handgun license-holders will agree that this situation is very concerning."
Furthermore, as I told Casey Roth from WOSU (NPR Columbus) this week, the Second Amendment community is very pro-law enforcement. We realize that the law enforcement officers are trying to keep us safe – that’s why they exist. This is why some are hesitant to speak into these situations too soon, because we don’t have all the information.
However, it is not making a judgment call to ask questions, and I believe there ARE questions about this case that all law-abiding gun owners should want to have answered.
That is why I continue to encourage the Second Amendment rights community to join the call for the fair and impartial investigation that both Casey and the deputy deserve. And I have been pleased that the majority of the feedback we have received has been very supportive.
Some of the more significant developments in this past week include:
- U.S. Marshal admits he spoke too soon
One week after U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin declared that the shooting of concealed handgun license-holder Casey Goodson appeared "justified" before any investigation had been conducted, Tobin admitted that statement was "premature" and "based on insufficient information."
From a press statement:
"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."
As I wrote last week - no law enforcement spokesperson should be saying the shooting was justified before an investigation has been done. Such statements cause a lack of trust for family members and others as to whether a fair and impartial weighing of the facts will be done at all.
Even while admitting he spoke too soon, Tobin did not specify as to what parts of his statement, given on the night of the shooting, were accurate or known. And so, nearly two weeks after Goodson's death, there are many questions that remain unanswered (questions which are well-documented by our good friend Cam Edwards at BearingArms.com here and here, as well as by Columbus Dispatch writer Theodore Decker here).
- U.S. Marshal Service says deputy was not acting under their purview
From a press statement:
“The officer was acting on his own and in his independent authority as a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy within his home jurisdiction when he encountered Mr. Goodson, and throughout the subsequent incident leading to Mr. Goodson’s death."
- Franklin Co. Sheriff says that's news to him
From the Columbus Dispatch:
"When I read the statement about the U.S. Marshal (Peter) Tobin now saying that [the] Deputy ... was acting as a Franklin County deputy and not as U.S. Marshall during the recent shooting incident, I was more than surprised," Baldwin said in a video on Twitter posted mid-afternoon on Saturday.
"It's been eight days. If that was the correct decision, I should have been informed, and at that point, I would have immediately contact BCI to conduct an investigation, because that's our policy," Baldwin continued, referring to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. "I don't know why it took eight days, but here we are."
- FBI and Department of Justice join investigation
“As the United States pursues a full and fair investigation into the death of Casey Goodson, Jr., I want to make clear that there is one criminal investigation underway through the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. It is a joint criminal civil rights investigation being conducted by the FBI, the Columbus Division of Police, and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. 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.
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. Disclosing information prematurely or releasing potentially challenged evidence could severely jeopardize the investigation and any possible prosecution.
I met with the family of Mr. Goodson last week and I explained this delicate and critical balance. Mr. Goodson’s family made it clear that they are putting their trust in us to discharge our responsibilities fully and fairly. We intend to do everything in our power to honor that trust.”
- Franklin County Commissioners approve $2.5M for body cameras
From WKRC (CBS Cincinnati):
Officials approved $2.5 million in funding for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office to purchase body cameras.
- 12 days later, deputy had not met with investigators
Columbus Police clarified Wednesday that investigators have yet to speak directly with [the] Franklin County deputy ... following the shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr.
ABC 6/FOX 28 was told earlier this week that [the deputy] was interviewed as part of the investigation, but no interview took place. All police have received as of Wednesday is a statement from [his] attorney.
- Deputy's attorney says his client was in an unmarked vehicle
From the Washington Post:
[The deputy] was heading back to his office in an unmarked vehicle belonging to the Marshals Service, when he encountered Goodson, according to his attorney, Mark C. Collins.
- Neighbor says men at Casey's door were in plain cloths
Initial reports had indicated that only the deputy who shot Casey was present at the moment of the shooting. That may still be the case, but according a New York Times interview with a neighbor of Goodson's, others were almost immediately present as well, and they were not identifiable to him as law enforcement officers:
In the moment before Casey Goodson Jr. was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy at the entrance of his home, his lifelong neighbor heard a man shouting, as if he were arguing, and then a burst of gunfire.
The neighbor, Andrew Weeks, rushed to a window and saw three men outside, at least one holding a rifle. He called the police, unaware that the three men — all in plain clothes — were law enforcement officers.
Mr. Weeks, Mr. Goodson’s neighbor across the street, said that little about the shooting added up. The officers he saw were not in uniform, so how could Mr. Goodson have known they were law enforcement — either when he drove past them, or when one pursued him, Mr. Weeks asked.
“What if he sees the cop, and he has no clue it’s a cop?” Mr. Weeks said. “The stories are just so different.”
While there is much still to be revealed, the lack of known witnesses and absence of body cameras means we may not actually EVER know the entirety of the circumstances that led to this shooting.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.