The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it is reviewing the case of Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man who was fatally shot last week by a sheriff’s deputy working with the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in Ohio. US Marshals said the deputy shot Goodson after he saw him “waving a gun” and ignored an order to drop his weapon — but Goodson’s family said he was holding sandwiches before he was shot in the back on his grandmother’s doorstep.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office will work with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the Cincinnati Division of the FBI and the Columbus Division of Police to review the case, and will “take appropriate action if the evidence indicates any federal civil rights laws were violated,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The announcement comes as US Marshals, police and family members are providing what appears to be conflicting information about the circumstances that led to Goodson’s death. In the aftermath of the December 4 shooting, US Marshal Peter Tobin told reporters on the scene that the victim was “seen driving down the street waving a gun,” and that “at some point after that, [the deputy] confronted him, and it went badly.”
Marshals said at least one person told investigators that they heard a deputy demand he drop a gun, and that the deputy fired after he refused, according to CBS affiliate WBNS. US Marshals Service has not provided any additional information on the shooting.
But Columbus police on Sunday released a different statement, writing that the shooting occurred after Jason Meade, a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy, witnessed “a man with a gun” while looking for violent offenders on behalf of the task force.
Police said there were “reports of a verbal exchange” before Meade fatally shot Goodson, adding that Goodson was not the person being sought by the task force. Police also said they recovered a gun at the scene. They did not specifically identify Goodson as the man with the gun, and said nothing about him waving a gun or drawing a weapon before he was killed. While Tobin said someone told investigators that they heard Meade tell Goodson to drop his weapon, police said they have not identified any eyewitnesses.
Goodson’s family tells an entirely different story. In an interview with CBS News, family attorney Sean Walton said that Goodson was returning home from a dentist appointment and was carrying three Subway sandwiches for his family. Walton said that Goodson was shot as he was opening his grandmother’s door, and that he fell into the home in front of his 72-year-old grandmother and two toddlers.
In an audio recording of a 911 call, Goodson’s grandmother, Sharon Payne, told the dispatcher that Goodson “was shot in the back when he was trying to come in the house.”
When asked who shot him, Payne said, “I don’t know, I heard the gunshots and I got up and he was laying in the door.”
Walton said Payne “passed out later that night in grief” and has since been hospitalized for her injuries.
Walton also said that Goodson was a gun owner and described him as a “gun rights advocate,” but said the family did not see a gun at the scene. Walton also emphasized that Ohio is an open carry state, and that Goodson had the appropriate license to carry a firearm.
“Openly carrying a weapon is not is not a crime. And so for what reason was Casey confronted?” Walton said. “And more than anything, the question that needs to be answered immediately is why was Casey shot for having done what he had every legal right to do.”
“So far, we’ve been told that Casey exited his vehicle and the deputy confronted him. At that point, things went bad,” Walton said. “That is not enough. That is not enough when Casey is not accused of any wrongdoing or any crime.”
CBS News has obtained a copy of the preliminary investigation case report, which does not provide any additional details about the shooting. Police said there is no body camera footage of the shooting.
In response to a question from CBS News about Meade’s status, a spokesperson for Columbus police told CBS News that he is on administrative duty and is not currently involved in any “enforcement action.”
The Columbus Division of Police is tasked with investigating Goodson’s death. A spokesperson for the department confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday that it requested the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation take over the case — but a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, which manages the bureau, released a statement soon after saying that it will not be able to do so because of the amount of time that has passed since the shooting occurred.
“We received a referral to take a three day old officer-involved shooting case. Not knowing all the reasons as to why so much time has passed before the case was referred to BCI, we cannot accept this case,” the spokesperson said, adding, “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. Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witness[es] have all dispersed does not work.”
Walton’s law firm spoke out against Columbus police’s actions in a statement Tuesday, writing that “Nothing is more critical at this point than a thorough, transparent, independent investigation.”
“Columbus has now admitted what we already knew – that their Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) cannot conduct that independent investigation. Franklin County and the US Marshals could have – and should have – immediately called in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to investigate this shooting,” the firm said in a statement. “Their failure to do so has permanently impacted any chance at a full and fair evaluation of Meade’s deadly actions. At this point, CIRT cannot resume any investigation because the integrity of that investigation will always be questioned, and rightfully so.”
Pat Milton and Mandy Aracena contributed to this report.