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CMHA releases video 7 months after police shooting death of Arthur Keith

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates has been pushing for accountability in the Arthur Keith police shooting case for the past seven months, asking for any video involving his death.

Wednesday, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office answered some of our questions, but we are still pressing for more answers.

A grand jury determined, based on BCI findings, that the officer acted “reasonably” in the fatal shooting of Keith.

No indictments will be filed for any of the involved officers.

The Attorney General’s Office said surveillance video at the housing complex did not actually show the shooting.

But we just learned CMHA expects to release whatever video they do have now that the investigation is over.

Here is an updated timeline of the case.

NOVEMBER 19, 2020:

The shooting happened on the CMHA property in the King Kennedy area of Cleveland near East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue.

CMHA Police said that officers approached a van suspected of being used in a shooting.

Arthur Keith was inside that van.

Police said he pulled a gun and officers opened fire.

They said Keith then collapsed.

But witnesses had a different account.

They said officers shot Keith in the back as he ran away.

Keith’s family and friends like Richard Starr didn’t believe police.

“He was scared, he was nervous, he jumped, he took off running-- he didn’t deserve to be shot,” Starr told 19 News.

DECEMBER 3, 2020

New information came out two weeks after the shooting.

Arthur Keith’s family attorney released the CMHA officer’s name.

He said James Griffiths shot Keith.

A witness told us his account of what happened.

“The Police officer who shot pointed inside the car …and he opened up the passenger door and he said freeze like freeze. Arthur tried to get out of the car, he tried to run and that’s when you heard 5 gun shots,” Zaizer Melton said.

The next day, 19 News requested security video of the shooting, if it exists, from Cleveland Police, who took over the case.

Our request was denied and CPD said it was “part of the investigation.”

DECEMBER 9, 2020

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office appointed a special prosecutor, handing the case over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. They said it is policy “to eliminate any appearance of a conflict of interest.”

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

A painful milestone for Keith’s family.

They hold a balloon release on what would have been his 20th birthday.

MARCH 4, 2021

Nearly four months after Keith’s death, there is proof he was shot in the back that day by police.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office released Keith’s autopsy report, citing transparency to the public.

MAY 22, 2021

Arthur Keith’s family protested outside the justice center in downtown Cleveland, pushing for more answers.

JUNE 2021

Sometime in June a grand jury convened to look at the case and decide whether the officer who shot Keith should face charges.

Meanwhile, 19 Investigates reached out to CMHA again, asking again for a copy of the surveillance video. We get no response.

JULY 7, 2021

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office announced no indictments will be filed for any of the involved officers.

CMHA 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.

19 NEWS STATEMENT

News organizations, including 19 News, have been pushing for the release the surveillance footage of the shooting since last November, but CMHA has refused to release it until now – seven months after the shooting.

Earlier this year, Ideastream, Cleveland’s NPR affiliate, filed suit against CMHA and the City for access to the footage. And 19 News -- along with News 5, WKYC, the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, and others – submitted a brief in support of Ideastream’s case, arguing that CHMA was required to promptly release the video under Ohio’s Open Records Act.

Despite CMHA’s statement that it now intends to release the video, the lawsuit remains pending, and, once decided, may provide some guidance about how such video must be handled in the future.

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