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Mistrial declared in Ohio where White deputy fatally shot Black man in back

Jury members, some in tears, tell judge they can’t reach a verdict after two days of deliberations
Black Lives Matter protesters outside the White House after the death of George Floyd. (Photo credit: Wilson)

Jury members in the murder trial of a former Ohio sheriff’s deputy said Friday that they were unable to reach a verdict, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.

Jason Meade, who is white, was charged with two counts of murder and one of reckless homicide in the December 2020 killing of Casey Goodson Jr., who was black. The 45-year-old deputy shot Goodson six times — five times in his back and once in his side — as the 23-year-old tried to enter his grandmother’s home in Columbus around noon on Dec. 4, 2020. The shooting came only 193 days after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, putting into context the Black Lives Matter outrage that was still fresh in the country’s minds.

In the three-week trial held in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, after numerous delays over the last three years, the prosecutor emphasized it in his closing arguments on Wednesday.

“Six shots in the back,” Tim Merkle told the jury. “No matter how [defense attorneys] twist and turn, it is still six shots in the back.”

Judge David Young, who vacillated on declaring the mistrial, finally declared it after jurors — some crying — returned to him and said they were deadlocked after deliberating for two days. Young thanked them for their efforts, calling them “the hardest-working jury I’ve ever had,” but left unsaid was whether the case would be retried. That was not immediately clear; Young will meet with prosecutors and defense lawyers in the near future, but nobody knows when.

While prosecutors ducked out of the courthouse without speaking to reporters, Meade’s attorney, Mark Collins, thanked the jurors for being “as fair and impartial as possible.” The attorney declared that Meade is “ready to go” if a second trial is set because “this is just the first step in the process.”

‘The unjustifiable killing of Casey Goodson’

Meanwhile, Sean Walton, an attorney for the Goodson family, said jurors still considered all the evidence and thought Meade was guilty.

“There were jurors back there that obviously felt that Jason Meade was responsible for the unjustifiable killing of Casey Goodson,” Walton said. “And that should make a statement.”

That isn’t the statement many will take away from yet another case in America, where a white officer has shot a black suspect without cause and has lived to celebrate not being held accountable. In fact, that’s not the takeaway even just in Columbus, Ohio’s capital city, where there were two such shootings that same month.

Weeks after Goodson was killed, then-police officer Adam Coy shot Andre Hill on Dec. 22, 2020, as the unarmed man left a garage while holding an illuminated cell phone in his left hand and a set of car keys in his right hand by his pocket.

What’s so bad about this case is that Meade wasn’t even looking for Goodson when they crossed paths. Meade was on a U.S. Marshal’s fugitive apprehension task force, looking for a fugitive who had nothing to do with Goodson. It was a chance encounter as deputies on the task force were about to give up for the day.

Goodson’s family never said he was unarmed, and Meade testified that Goodson waved the firearm at him while they were driving through Columbus. Meade said he commanded Goodson to show his hands and drop his gun and later said that Goodson turned toward him with a gun.

His family countered that Goodson had a Subway sandwich bag in one hand, keys in the other, and was listening to music through earbuds so that he wouldn’t have heard Meade. When the gun that Goodson was licensed to carry was found on his grandmother’s kitchen floor, the safety was on, meaning the gun could not be fired.

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