FOX19 Investigates: Homicide in the Brown County Jail

BROWN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Dash cam video obtained by FOX19 shows the interaction between law enforcement officers and Brown County inmate Zachary Goldson less than an hour before he died. His death has now been ruled a homicide by the local coroner, Dr. Judith Varnau.

When the squad car arrives, we see Goldson outside a hospital being handcuffed after he'd attacked the deputy who was supposed to transport him back to jail.

"I've got to go in there and get my eye checked," the deputy said.

"What'd he do?" another officer asked him.

"Stabbed me with something," the deputy answered.

"I don't have anything to stab anybody with," Goldson said loudly.

"I'd like to break your f****** neck right now," one of the officers can be heard saying.

About twenty seconds later, the officers pull Goldson up off the grass in handcuffs and cart him off to a nearby sheriff's squad car. At one point, Goldson said, "I didn't mean to!"

Soon after, you can hear an officer saying, "Yeah, that motherf*****'s getting a welcome party when we get to the jail. How would you like that, motherf*****?"

According to coroner's office documents obtained by FOX19, Goldson likely died within the hour. The coroner and her investigators don't believe that Goldson committed suicide, despite a photograph after his death showing a neatly cut sheet hanging from a sprinkler in Goldson's cell, while another photograph shows a piece of bed sheet around his neck.

In a document called "Technical Explanations of Determinations," which the coroner's office allowed FOX19 to take notes from but not photocopy, Dr. Varnau writes that a nylon strap is more consistent with the injuries on Goldson's neck than a sheet.

She writes that deputies or jailers may have used such a strap "to possibly hog-tie Mr. Goldson to handcuffs behind his back or to leg irons."

However, that might have caused him to suffocate without authorities realizing it, Dr. Varnau suggests.

"The more he would struggle, the tighter the strap would get around his neck to choke him out," the document says.

FOX19 went to the Brown County Sheriff's Office today to request an interview with Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger. We were told he was not there. And we did not hear back from the sheriff after leaving our contact information.

Goldson's mother, Christy Dennis, tells FOX19 that her son was arrested six days before his death for shooting across a highway at a target. She said her son told her in a letter from jail that he had a prior felony and wasn't allowed to have a gun. He wrote that he likely faced at least five years in prison.

The case is now in the hands of Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation. And Dennis is pressing for answers about what happened at the Brown County Jail before Goldson died.

"Because he was my son," she said. "And he was only 24-years-old. And he had a long life to live. And it wasn't fair that it got taken away from him."

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