NBC4 is covering the murder trial of Jason Meade from gavel to gavel. Viewer discretion is advised. 4:40 p.m. update: Closing arguments will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The last witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the case against a former deputy who fatally shot a Black man at the door of his grandmother’s house.
After a day of deposition, the trial of Jason Meade resumed Tuesday, beginning with a surprise witness who disputed the defense’s claim that Casey Goodson Jr. was waving a gun while driving before Meade fatally shot him. In the afternoon, a law professor and use-of-force expert testified that Meade’s actions before the shooting did not align with generally accepted law enforcement practices and principles, but that he would have been justified in shooting if Goodson pointed a gun at him.
Meade was a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy coming off an assignment with the U.S. Marshals Service when he fatally shot 23-year-old Goodson in 2020. Meade has defended the shooting as necessary, claiming he saw Goodson wave a gun while driving and feared for his life when Goodson pointed that gun at him while standing in the threshold of his grandmother’s northwest Columbus house.
The state and Goodson’s family have argued that Goodson, who had a concealed carry permit, didn’t point his gun at Meade. Any commands Meade gave Goodson to drop his gun or put his hands up would have gone unheard, the state contends. Goodson was listening to music through AirPods when Meade shot him six times, five of which hit his back.
Surprise witness testifies that Goodson didn’t have a gun
The defense was supposed to call its final witnesses last Thursday, but after hours of attorneys meeting in the judge’s chambers, Judge David Young called the jury in to dismiss them until Tuesday. Court documents later revealed that the delay was caused by a possible witness coming forward.
That witness, identified as Christopher Corne, was deposed Monday by Meade’s attorneys and ordered to hand over GPS records and his employment file. On the stand Tuesday, Corne said he was driving a heating and cooling truck after a job when he stopped behind Meade at the intersection of Ferris and Karl roads. He saw Goodson turn left in front of Meade’s truck, and Goodson caught his eye because he was driving “erratically.”
Goodson looked like he was singing along to music, Corne testified. He said he and Goodson made eye contact when Goodson turned. Goodson had his right hand up for most of the turn, at one point taking his other hand off the wheel.
“Did you ever see a gun?” Prosecutor Joshua Shaw asked him.
“No,” Corne said.
When Meade made a U-turn, Corne said he turned around and followed. By the time he got onto Goodson’s street, Meade and the other officer’s truck were already at the end of the road. He didn’t see the shooting or hear gunshots.
Defense attorney Steven Nolder focused his cross-examination of Corne on inconsistencies among Corne’s deposition, interviews with the FBI and the prosecution, and his testimony on the stand. Corne told the prosecution in his interview that he saw Goodson’s car before it turned in front of Meade, but he told the FBI that he didn’t see Goodson’s car until it rounded the corner of Meade’s truck.
He also said in interviews that Goodson took the turn wide and almost swerved into his vehicle. None of it could be seen on security footage from a nearby church that the defense played in court. Neither could the police lights that Corne said Meade briefly turned on when he made the U-turn.
Corne came forward last week after he messaged Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, multiple times on Facebook. Payne never responded, Corne said.
But he knew he witnessed the encounter between Goodson and Meade the day it happened, when he saw it on the news that night. He posted about the incident on Facebook about two weeks afterward, a post he later deleted.
After his name became public late last week, Corne deleted his Facebook account. He said he received over 100 friend requests on the platform and thought deleting the account was “the safest thing to do.”
“I didn’t want to be in the public eye, like I am now,” Corne said.
Nolder questioned Corne’s motive for deleting his Facebook account. He noted that Corne watched multiple news stories of the trial and commented on some news organizations’ social media accounts about it, comments he later deleted. He also never told the FBI about his Facebook posts – although he wasn’t asked about them, he later clarified.
“We’re relying on your veracity as to what the statements are because there’s no record of that, because you took the necessary steps to delete it, right?” Nolder asked.
“Yes,” Corne said.
Payne and Sean Walton, the Goodson family’s civil attorney, were subpoenaed for any emails between them regarding Corne within the last six months and were supposed to be deposed on Monday, but they weren’t, Walton told reporters Tuesday morning.
Expert in Derek Chauvin murder case testifies to police practices
Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina whose research focuses on police policy and practices, was retained by the prosecution – for $385 an hour – to analyze the shooting. Stoughton has been retained in over 100 cases to give his opinion on police use of force, and he testified in the case against Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis officer convicted of murder for killing George Floyd in 2020.
Stoughton, a former officer, testified that in his expert opinion, Meade’s actions before the shooting were not in line with widely accepted police practices.
Meade did not adequately communicate with fellow officers or give them the opportunity to arm themselves before he approached Goodson on foot, Stoughton testified. Meade also had the opportunity to take cover from Goodson’s potential line of fire, Stoughton determined, either by hiding behind his truck or behind a tree in the Goodson family’s yard.
But if Goodson pointed a gun at Meade before entering the house, like Meade claims, Stoughton said it was “pretty clear” that the shooting was justified.
What happened earlier in the trial? Who will I see in the courtroom?
Meade testified in his own defense for nearly four hours last week, describing in detail the moments before he shot Goodson. While waiting at a red light, Meade said he saw Goodson brandish a gun in a “pumping” fashion and point it at another driver before pointing it at Meade.
He said Goodson pointed the gun at him again after ignoring commands to drop the weapon. In the doorway of his grandmother’s house, Goodson allegedly pointed the gun with his back still turned to Meade.
“I thought he was going to shoot me,” Meade said. “I’m thinking, ‘I don’t want to die.’”
The jury also heard from a former law enforcement officer and use-of-force expert who testified that he believed Meade had a “lawful objective” in using deadly force against Goodson.
The state, which rested its case last Tuesday morning, brought more than a dozen witnesses to the stand to explain why Meade’s shooting of Goodson was unjustified. A detective who analyzed Goodson’s phone data and Google account information testified that Goodson was listening to YouTube Music with AirPods up until he was shot.
The safety was engaged on Goodson’s gun that was found in the kitchen near where he was shot, the jury also learned last week. With just a cloth holster, the lead detective on the case testified that he would expect the gun to fall out if Goodson ran – or when he fell from the gunshots.
But the state’s firearm expert said last week under cross-examination that if Goodson had been pointing or waving the gun, a person may not be able to tell whether the safety was engaged. Other law enforcement officers said under cross-examination that their guns have never fallen from the cloth holsters they used while undercover.
In the first week of the trial, jurors first heard from Goodson’s grandmother, uncle and sister, who were all in the house when Goodson was shot at the side door. Technical experts involved in the investigation, including an FBI firearms expert and the medical examiner who performed Goodson’s autopsy, also testified.
Meade spent his entire law enforcement career at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, first becoming a deputy in 2007. He left the force in July 2021 on disability retirement, five months before he was charged in Goodson’s death. He had been on paid leave since shooting Goodson.
The former Marine had been on the sheriff’s office SWAT team since 2014, according to his personnel file. He was previously a pastor at Rosedale Freewill Baptist Church in Irwin.
Representing Meade are three seasoned criminal defense attorneys: Mark Collins, Kaitlyn Stephens and Steven Nolder. Collins and Stephens have represented a swathe of law enforcement officials under prosecutorial scrutiny for their use of force, including former Columbus police vice officer Andrew Mitchell, who killed Donna Castleberry in 2018.
Presenting the state’s case are special prosecutors Gary Shroyer, Tim Merkle and Joshua Shaw, tapped by the Franklin County prosecutor’s office since it typically represents the sheriff’s office. Shroyer and Merkle have ample experience investigating officers who use deadly force — most recently, the duo is handling the murder case against former Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson, who killed Donovan Lewis in his bed in the Hilltop in August 2022.