CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office says a grand jury has ruled a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) officer acted properly during the November 13, 2020 shooting of Arthur Keith.
The findings were released Wednesday during a news conference.
Keith’s family and attorney have said they are disappointed in the investigation process. They stressed they didn’t believe it’s been open and fair.
The shooting was investigated by Cleveland police.
Police have said CMHA officers were looking for a car involved in a shooting when they came across Keith, 19, 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.
Cleveland police said a gun was recovered at the scene. The family’s attorney said witnesses did not see Keith with a weapon.
However, officials with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said a gun was found near Keith and Keith’s DNA was found on the gun.
CMHA released the following statement:
Yesterday, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury met and decided not to bring any charges against a CMHA Police Officer. This decision does not change the tragic events that occurred on November 13, 2020 when a young man, Arthur Keith, lost his life. We continue to extend our sympathy to Mr. Keith’s family, friends, and the community.
The CMHA Police Department has fully cooperated with the investigation, immediately turning over all evidence to the Cleveland Division of Police to make an objective decision based on the facts. Founded at the request of our residents who wanted officers dedicated to building relationships with the community, the CMHA Police Department has established a strong foundation of trust with our residents and partners. Yet, we know these tragic events have tested this trust, and it is our responsibility to renew the Community’s confidence by listening, learning, and working together as we move forward. We are committed to doing so.
Given the conclusion of the investigation and proceedings, this matter will now be reviewed internally by a neutral outside party to ensure the Officer acted in accordance with CMHA’s constitutionally certified policies and procedures. Any video in CMHA’s possession that is connected with this incident will also be made available now that the investigation is complete.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio and the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance also released a joint statement on the no-charge decision:
We are deeply disappointed in a grand jury’s decision not to charge a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police officer in the shooting death of Arthur Keith, a 19-year-old former Club member, and in the shocking lack of transparency shown by those involved in this case.
If, as the special counsel indicated, the grand jury felt officer James Griffiths “acted reasonably,” the secretiveness and lack of clarity surrounding Arthur’s death surely calls that assessment into question. Why wasn’t this officer – and all CMHA officers – wearing a body camera? Why has video footage not been released? Why were some cameras not functioning? Why weren’t more witnesses – including some whose accounts differ from the official version of events – interviewed? And how was it that Arthur was shot in the back, per an autopsy report?
We were among those asking questions. We got silence, ambiguity and unresponsiveness.
Young people like Arthur and communities like King Kennedy deserve better. Today, we are once again asking community leaders to work for the kind of sustainable change we need. We work every day to keep our kids safe and on the right path, and one aspect of that is gauging their level of trust in law enforcement. Trust, as you know, must be earned. This case certainly did not help build that trust, as those in charge appeared eager to keep us in the dark.
Our sympathy goes out to Arthur Keith’s family. We acknowledge and respect our legal system – and its limitations. Justice for Arthur Keith was not done.