Crime scene photos, evidence videos released for investigation into CMHA officer-involved shooting death of Arthur Keith

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 4:05 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has made the investigative findings, documents, and evidence related to the deadly Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Arthur Keith accessible to the public.

The case files for the investigation, conducted by the Cleveland Division of Police, consists of personnel records, evidence and crime scene photos, and officer-worn body camera video.

**WARNING: Links contain photos, videos that some may consider graphic**

Highlights include:

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced at the beginning of July that a Cuyahoga County grand jury issued no indictments against Officer James Griffith, ruling he acted “reasonably” in the fatal November 2020 shooting of Keith.

CMHA officers approached a van in the parking lot of the King Kennedy housing complex because it matched the description of a vehicle previously used in a shooting.

Investigators said the CMHA officer shot Keith as he made a “motion.” Of the four shots fired by the officer, Keith was struck in the midsection once.

The attorney for Keith’s family, Stanley Jackson, said a surveillance camera in the area captured the shooting, but the attorney general’s office said the video did not actually show the incident.

A firearm with Keith’s DNA on it was recovered near his body, according to investigators.

The public release of the documents is part of a commitment from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to remain transparent in investigations into critical officer-involved incidents.

“This means public access to investigatory information after the investigating agency has secured the physical evidence and interviewed witnesses – a process that forms the basis for any legal action stemming from the incident – and a prosecutor or grand jury has ruled on the case.”

19 News spent the day pouring over the 285 pages of documents.

One contradiction we found was that a teen witness to the fatal shooting was in fact interviewed on the night of the shooting by Cleveland Detectives. Now that’s contrary to a statement made by Attorney Stanley Jackson who represents Keith’s family.

The teen Jahzir Milton told officers, “I saw everything.” Milton went on to say he was walking back from the trash dumpster ‚and he saw the male later identified as Arthur Keith get out of his vehicle and run. That’s when the teenager says he witnessed police shoot Keith two times. He says Keith ran past his apartment and around the corner. He would later collapse and die from his injuries.

Officer Griffiths said he was chasing Keith, not immediately realizing his bullets already struck the young man.

There are also now photos of the gun that was recovered next to Keith’s body in the courtyard at the King Kennedy housing complex back on November 13th.

For the first time, we also hear from CMHA Police Officer James Griffiths who shot Keith. His entire interview to detectives was released as part of an effort to be transparent Attorney General Yost’s Office said, “I drew my weapon, I said let me see your hands, drop the gun. I yelled it really loud several times. I didn’t shoot at that time. He started to run - he made like two to three steps maximum and then he turned towards me and raised his left hand to shoot me. I fired my weapon at that time. I thought he was going to shoot and kill me.”

Griffiths said Keith who was in the backseat of a van with Illinois plates held a gun near his stomach and tried to quietly slide out of the van, and after the officer fired at him Keith took off running but collapsed in the courtyard.

Police say they immediately took Keith’s gun as evidence, and Cleveland Police began the investigation gathering suspected drugs and cash after obtaining a search warrant.

The entire 285-page case file has been put on Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s website.

Scott Hawkins the father of Arthur Keith says no matter what they claim his son had on him, a gun and drugs, he says it still doesn’t justify shooting him in the back.

This is a developing story.

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