COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A longtime U.S. Marshal’s Service tool for capturing people with arrest warrants is under close scrutiny in Ohio Federal Courtroom, where a judge weighs the working status of non-federal officers who help marshals persecute people on the run.
These are refugee task forces run by the Marshals Service across the country, which pursue some of the most wanted criminals in the country.
In 2020, Ohio’s deputy sheriff, assigned full-time to one such task force, shot dead a man in a clash unrelated to the unit’s mission, and after the deputy’s shift ended during the day. Defendant Jason Mead has pleaded not guilty to murder and charges of negligent homicide in the 2020 murder of 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr.
At the time of the shooting, Mead was the sheriff’s deputy; he has since retired on disability. His lawyers claim he was a federal officer for all intents and purposes and want his case to be referred to federal court. Prosecutors prosecuting him for the murder say the shooting had nothing to do with his work as a temporary federal officer.
HOW ARE ORGANIZED ASPECT GROUPS ORGANIZED?
The Marshals Service manages eight regional refugee task forces in locations such as New York / New Jersey, the Great Lakes and Washington, D.C., and 56 other local task forces in states across the country. These latter task forces consist of full-time and local police officers working as special deputy U.S. marshals. Among them is the Southern Ohio Refugee Detention Team, or SOFAST, in which Mead served in Columbus.
The agency and its task forces arrested more than 77,000 state and local refugees in 2020 alone, according to the latest available data. Units were set up under the President’s 2000 Threat Protection Act “to search for and detain refugees.”
WHO SERVES IN THE ASPECTION?
Local units typically consist of U.S. Deputy Marshals and full-time local and state law enforcement officers. Local agencies give the opportunity to officers who apply and are interviewed by the Marshals Service, according to a February 11 court testimony of Ryan Rosser, a Columbus police staffer who was assigned to the same task force as Mead in 2017.
Members of the non-federal task force remain full-time employees of the relevant police departments, who pay salaries, according to the Marshals Service and court testimony.
Mead, a veteran of the Iraq war, joined the Franklin County Sheriff in 2003 and was a special weapons and tactics officer. He joined the task force in 2017 and worked Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
HOW DO APPEAL GROUPS WORK?
According to the court, the unit to which Mead and Roser are assigned usually begins with a briefing at the Columbus Task Force office in the city center, followed by field work.
Operations are tightly regulated, according to February 11 testimony of Charles Sansa, head of the Marshals Service, who oversees four task forces of refugees in southern Ohio.
Before a task force can prosecute a wanted criminal, a fugitive identification number must be issued and a warrant must be confirmed, Sanso said. Sanso testified that members of the non-federal task force have a single duty to persecute refugees, and do not have any other responsibilities as full-time U.S. deputy marshals, such as witness protection, transportation of prisoners, and protection of judges.
WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE FEDERAL JUDGE OF OHAO?
Mead’s lawyers want the case to be heard in federal court as a step toward dropping state charges, and because Mead is much less likely to be charged with killing Goodson under federal law.
“Mead’s main responsibilities were to help other members of the team arrest brutal fugitives and other criminals,” said Steve Nolder, a lawyer representing Mead, in a December 3 court statement. “Therefore, on December 4, 2020, Deputy Mead was acting as a federal officer when he shot Casey Goodson Jr.”
Franklin County Attorney’s Office is fighting to keep the charges against Mead alive in state court.
The facts of the case “do not confirm the conclusion that he was even a federal officer at the time of the crime, given that his activities as a member of SOFAST ended during the day and members of the task force left the field,” prosecutors Tim Merkel and Gary Schroer argued December.
Mead’s salary continued to be paid by the county, and he was only authorized to “seek and execute arrest and search warrants” on behalf of the marshals, according to court documents and testimony at a Feb. 11 hearing.
Mead pleaded not guilty and was released on $ 250,000 bail. Federal Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. is expected to rule soon.