Family of 19-year-old shot and killed by CMHA officer calls for transparency in investigation

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The family of a man shot and killed by a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority officer held a news conference on Thursday.

The family of 19-year-old Arthur Keith recently received a copy of the autopsy. Attorney Stanley Jackson, with the Cochran Firm, said it confirmed what witnesses reported: that Keith was shot in the back.

“There is a narrative that talks about how the officer, how Mr. Keith had pointed a gun at the officer. And that narrative is parroted exactly from the statement that Officer Griffith made on that day,” Jackson said, while criticizing the medical examiner’s report. “There should have been additional comments from witnesses that were there.”

Jackson, who was joined on the virtual news conference by Keith’s aunt, again called for video to be released and said they are disappointed in the investigation process. He said they didn’t believe it’s been open and fair.

Police were looking for a car involved in a shooting when they came across Keith on Haltnorth Walk, in the area of East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, on Nov. 13.

The CMHA officer ordered him out of the vehicle. The Cleveland Division of Police said he pointed a gun at the officer, the officer fired and the suspect ran. Keith collapsed and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he died.

“The facts in the report specifically say that Mr. Keith was shot from behind. How is it possible that he could have pointing a gun or even facing you when the encounter happened?” Jackson said.

Cleveland police said a gun was recovered at the scene. The family’s attorney said witnesses did not see Keith with a weapon.

“In light of the recent publication of a description of certain parts of the autopsy of Mr. Keith which were incomplete and to bring transparency and clarity to an issue of community importance, we are releasing this Office’s death investigation report in this case,” the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.

A toxicology report from the medical examiner’s office showed Keith had marijuana and oxycodone in his system at the time he died.

Keith and the officer who shot him both took part in a program with the Boys and Girls Club, which aims to build bridges between police and the community.

“It’s very sad that the situation happened because there was a relationship through the Boys and Girls Club with CMHA and officers are there to protect as well as serve,” Jackson said.

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