Local Ohio media have obtained audio of what is said to be a recording of remarks made to Jason Meade, the Ohio deputy and Baptist Church pastor accused of fatally shooting an unarmed black man, in which he seems to brag about his job ‘hunting people’ for a living.
“I work for the sheriff’s office… I hunt people – it’s a great job, I love it,” the voice said to be Meade’s says in the recording.
“I worked this job 14 years, you know I ain’t never been hit clean in the face one time? It’s a fact. It ain’t ‘cause I’m so good…You know why? I learnt long ago I gotta throw the first punch. And I learnt long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like, ‘oh, police brutality.’ People I hit wish you could hit me, trust me,” the voice adds.
The alleged audio of Meade was said to have been recorded during a sermon in 2018 before the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists. The recording was first released by the Columbus Free Press on 12 December, before spreading to national media this week.
Activists seeking justice for Goodson allege that the recording, along with a video in which Meade compares himself and other public servants with Jesus Christ, “the servant of all servants”, and calls the use of violence a “righteous release”, are evidence that the deputy was unfit for service.
Maede, a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, has been a pastor at the Rosedale Freewill Baptist Church in Madison County since 2014, and did a tour of duty in Iraq with the Marine Reserves in 2005.
The deputy was thrust into the national spotlight earlier this month after a deadly 4 December altercation with Casey Goodson, whom he shot in an incident which coroners ruled a homicide. Meade, who was searching for violent offenders with the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force at the time, reported “witnessing a man with a gun” and having had a verbal exchange with Goodson before firing and killing him. Police said a gun had been recovered from Goodson.
However, lawyers representing Goodson’s family say the 23-year-old was fatally shot in front of his grandmother and two children as he tried to unlock the door to his home carrying sandwiches from Subway after returning from a dentist’s appointment, and that he was not armed and posed no threat. Meade’s legal team maintain the young man had a gun, which he is said to have waved around at law enforcement.
Meade has been put on paid leave as federal, state and local inquiries into his case continue. Members of his congregation have defended the pastor, accusing the media of “trying to make him a villain”. They’ve asked the community to reserve their judgement in the case until investigations are completed.