Smiling young white man

Jason Meade

Many questions remain surrounding how Casey Goodson was killed and the officer who killed him, Deputy Jason Meade.

As more details emerge about Meade – like his background as a pastor and his controversial Christian views on policing – activists are asking: have these views affected his judgment on the job? 

Meade’s recently resurfaced 2018 interview for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office “Connecting with the Community” YouTube series, along with a 2018 audio recording of a sermon he gave at a convention for the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists, offers insight into Meade’s contentious logic between police use of force and the teachings of Jesus.

In his sermon at the Baptist convention, he said, “I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like ‘Oh police brutality’.”

He continues his ramblings about use of force ending with, “Jesus was the manliest man in the history of mankind.”

Although the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was fully aware of this sermon - his fellow SWAT members and bosses were there - it apparently didn’t appear to raise any red flags with commanding officers. Likely because it’s the same message police trainers deliver to cops around the country.

The Sermon

In his 2018 recorded sermon at the Baptist convention, with other SWAT members and commanding officers in the congregation, Deputy Jason Meade delivered a message about David and Goliath, claiming David won because he threw the first punch. A strategy he adheres to when enforcing the law, he said.

(EDIT: Here is a copy of the sermon as the original appears to have been deleted from the Ohio Association of Freewill Baptists website.)

But before he gets to the main message of his sermon he preempts with an honest disclaimer: “I’m not politically correct. Do I need to throw that out? Full disclosure: if you’re looking for PC you got the wrong one.” Laughter is heard erupting from the congregation. 

Later in the sermon Meade introduces his occupation, “I work for the Sheriff’s office… I hunt people – it’s a great job, I love it. I got a bunch of my SWAT members here and even my bosses are here, I appreciate ‘em coming out, they’re good men of god. I’m glad they came out to support us today, but they’ll let you know, I worked this job 14 years, you know I ain’t never been hit clean in the face one time?”

He clarifies, “It’s a fact. It ain’t cuz I’m so good, I ain’t bad, it ain’t cuz I’m so good. You know why? I learned long ago I gotta throw the first punch.” 

Meade adds, “And I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like ‘oh police brutality,’ people I hit you wish you could hit, trust me. Right? Hahahaha yeah, every time I hit ‘em and I’m like that’s for you, that’s for you [referring to the audience]. It’s not that bad, I’m kidding. But listen, this is the truth.”

In his seemingly unhinged flipping of the David-and-Goliath story (the victims of police brutality are the Goliath with his logic), Meade yells with passion, his voice cracks, his subtle southern accent recalling being physically punished as a child, always getting in fights with his brother, talking about the line of “BLOOD” that Satan can’t cross.

His interpretation of David and Goliath seems to correspond with the views he expressed in the 2018 interview for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office “Connecting the Community” YouTube series that surfaced last week.

The Interview

In the interview Meade talks about his Christian faith and background as a pastor, offering a controversial take on the Bible and Jesus’ teachings. One that also matches up with many of the radical Christian police trainers who advocate for more use of force, justified, they say, through the Bible as “righteous violence,” what Meade during the interview refers to as “righteous release.”

Meade talks about his background as a corrections officer, an undercover officer in narcotics, his deployment and his church. He explains that his church congregation’s willingness for giving to overseas missionaries so often is because “we love our freedom here in our country and we know what all it takes to be there.” Meade says that he has a “genuine concern for humanity.” He says “I wanna help somebody… if that means by arresting somebody here, I’m helping all these here, then that’s what I do.”

While the video has been shared on local media sites, his thoughts on use of force were glazed over by their reporters. When given the floor to talk of his philosophy on mixing Christianity with policing, he changed tone. Meade defensively claims that the “Bible actually compliments law enforcement.”

He compares law enforcement to Jesus, saying that Jesus was the best servant in history, “what are we [law enforcement]? Servants.”

Meade claims that law enforcement’s use of force is justified in the Bible as “righteous release,” a term not mentioned in the Bible (or anywhere else for that matter): 

“There is times for righteous release. That’s what I call when we have a use of force… We don’t go around looking for it, because we don’t have to. Plenty of people out there will give you that opportunity. So we don’t have to be bullies going looking for it. That’s why I say it’s a righteous release. There is release in our job that righteously we can actually have a use of force.”

It’s important to mention that Meade was on a failed search for a suspect when he claims that Casey Goodson waved his gun from his car and then Meade pursued him

He goes on to reject the claim that Jesus’ teachings of turning the other cheek were referring to physically being slapped, saying that the Bible is often taken out of context.

“And I’ve had people who say ‘how can you hurt someone, Jesus said turn the other cheek’ and I say read your Bible. He ain’t talking about physically getting slapped in the side of the face.”

Meade attempts to clarify, “when He’s saying that it’s in offense to His name. Hold on, am I suffering from crime and criminals in the name of Jesus? No, this isn’t His namesake so that’s why we take the Bible out of context and we take service out of context. Like you can’t be a man and be a Christian? Jesus was the manliest man in the history of mankind.”

Meade’s Biblical ramblings and his thoughts on Jesus, who, it’s worth noting, was arrested and executed by the Roman state, might raise eyebrows. However, this is the same message delivered at some Columbus police gatherings and by many of the police trainers making their rounds across the country, mixing Bible verses with justifications of use of force and killing. 

Police Trainers

In her recent book Walking the Thin Black Line: Confronting Racism in the Columbus Division of Police, Columbus Police Lieutenant Melissa McFadden writes: “Some police officers believe that we are called by God to help people in our community at their most difficult times. Some wear their uniforms feeling that God ordains police officers to be the authority to enforce His will. Therefore, they believe, if a citizen resists their authority, they are resisting the authority of God and will encounter His wrath. Several scriptures are read at police ceremonies and hang on the walls at various officers’ workstations that reinforce this belief.”

Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, who travels the country teaching seminars on killing for police departments or spectators willing to pay $90, preaches that “We fight violence. What do we fight it with? Superior violence. Righteous violence.”

Grossman says, similar to Meade, that there’s no need to go out looking for the “gangbangers” and bad guys, all they need is to be ready.

“Are you prepared to kill somebody? If you cannot answer that question, you should not be carrying a gun.” Grossman often quotes Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything… a time to kill and a time to heal…” 

Grossman’s name became more relevant after the death of Philando Castile when it was discovered that Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Castile, attended Grossman’s class called “The Bulletproof Warrior.” 

Grossman encourages officers to find an overpass overlooking their city, lean forward and, like a superhero, “let your cape blow in the wind.” His and Meade’s philosophy, similar to Dostoevsky’s Raskalnikov’s belief that certain people are endowed with a different set of morals that allow for violence to be divinely warranted: “righteous violence” or “righteous release.”

To put Meade’s and others biblical justifications of state violence and killing into the context of the killing of Casey Goodson, one wonders if these kinds of claims should’ve been a red flag for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and whether or not officers should be allowed to attend classes by people like Grossman who’s hosted several classes around Columbus. 

In Meade’s sermon at the Baptist convention he lays out three prerequisites that justify throwing the first punch: Proclamation, posturing and if they have a history of violence.

The current evidence that puts Casey Goodson in a position of entering his home with sandwiches in hand and keys in the door would appear to fail each of the first two and Casey’s lack of a criminal record would cancel the third.

If it’s found that Casey indeed only had sandwiches in hand and it was only Meade with a gun and bulletproof vest, the question could be asked: which of the two would assume the role of the one in a “coat of scale armor of bronze” with a spear’s iron point weighing “six hundred shekels” (Goliath) and which would be the one with no armor, initially carrying “roasted grain and... ten loaves of bread” for his family (David)?

You can find an edited video with excerpts from the interview and audio here