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Judge declares a mistrial in a former Ohio deputy's murder trial

By AP | Feb 17, 2024

Jason Meade covers his face while waiting for Judge David Young to return to the courtroom in his trial at the Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024 in Columbus, Ohio. A judge declared a mistrial Friday in the murder trial of the former Ohio sheriff’s deputy because the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Meade was charged with murder and reckless homicide in the December 2020 killing of Casey Goodson Jr. (Brooke LaValley/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, Pool0

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio sheriff’s deputy charged in the killing of a Black man remained free Friday, after a jury couldn’t agree on a verdict and the judge twice declared a mistrial, ending tumultuous proceedings that saw four jurors dismissed.

Jason Meade was charged with murder and reckless homicide in the December 2020 killing of Casey Goodson Jr. in Columbus. Meade, who is white, shot Goodson six times, including five times in the back, as the 23-year-old man tried to enter his grandmother’s home.

Judge David Young had already declared a mistrial Friday morning, but retracted it minutes later and commended the jurors for their hard work. Jurors came to Young again to say they couldn’t agree and he instructed them to keep trying. He declared a final mistrial about two hours after that, when jurors — some of whom were crying — said they were deadlocked.

Young will meet with prosecutors and defense lawyers in the near future to decide how to proceed with the case, but it wasn’t clear Friday when that would happen.

Sean Walton, an attorney for the Goodson family, told reporters that while there was indeed a mistrial, there were still jurors who clearly 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. And that should make a statement,” Walton said.

The nearly four years since Goodson was killed have been a “rollercoaster of extremes” for his family, Walton said.

Meade’s attorney, Mark Collins, expressed gratitude for how hard the jurors worked to be “as fair and impartial as possible,” and said he and Meade are “ready to go,” if a second trial is set.

“This is just the first step in the process,” Collins said.

The special prosecutors who handled the case did not comment before leaving the courthouse. Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney G. Gary Tyack’s office issued a news release saying their thoughts are with the Goodson family, and that they will decide whether to retry the case after a review.

Jurors also left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Meade testified that Goodson waved a gun at him as the two drove past each other so he pursued Goodson because he feared for his life and the lives of others. He said he eventually shot Goodson in the doorway of his grandmother’s home because the young man turned toward him with a gun.

Goodson’s family and prosecutors have said he was holding a sandwich bag in one hand and his keys in the other when he was fatally shot. They do not dispute that Goodson may have been carrying a gun and note he had a license to carry a firearm.

Goodson’s weapon was found on his grandmother’s kitchen floor with the safety mechanism engaged.

There is no body camera video of the shooting, and prosecutors repeatedly asserted that Meade is the only person who testified Goodson was holding a gun. Meade was not wearing a body camera.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, prosecutors said Meade’s claims about Goodson posing a threat were simply not credible. Defense lawyers insisted that the evidence in the case was consistent with Meade’s testimony.

The jury was unsettled throughout the trial. One juror was dismissed and an alternate was elevated to the main panel during testimony, and three other jurors were dismissed and replaced with alternates during deliberations, forcing the jury to restart multiple times.

Court officials did not say why the jurors were removed, but they can be dismissed for a number of reasons, including if they fall sick, research the case outside the deliberation room, or talk about it to someone outside the court.

Goodson was among several Black people killed by white Ohio law enforcement over the last decade — deaths that have all sparked national outrage and cries for police reform.

Since 2014, at least three Black children have been shot and killed by Ohio law enforcement, including Tamir Rice in Cleveland, age 12, in 2014; Tyre King in Columbus, age 13, in 2016; and Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, age 16, in 2021.

John Crawford III in Beavercreek in 2014; Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati in 2015; Andre Hill in Columbus in 2020; Miles Jackson in Westerville in 2021; Donovan Lewis in Columbus in 2022; Jayland Walker in Akron in 2022; and Ta’Kiya Young, who was pregnant, in Columbus in 2023 also all died at the hands of white law enforcement officers.

Some of the officers involved were never charged or have been cleared of charges. Columbus police Officers Adam Coy, who killed Andre Hill, and Ricky Anderson, who killed Donovan Lewis, await trial in Franklin County on murder charges.

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Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.