CMHA Cop Shot Black Teen Arthur Keith in the Back, Autopsy Kept Secret for Three Months


Arthur Keith
  • Arthur Keith

An autopsy released this week revealed that Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) officer James Griffiths fatally shot 19-year-old Arthur Keith in the back on Nov. 13, 2020 outside the King Kennedy public housing complex in Central.

The autopsy was completed on Dec. 8, but wasn't released to attorneys representing Arthur Keith's family until this week. For months, requests by attorneys and the media for the autopsy and additional materials were denied. CMHA and the City of Cleveland passed the buck back and forth, refusing to release information beyond the initial police narrative. They have yet to release bodycam footage.

But the autopsy, completed by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, corroborates witness statements in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Residents said that Keith, who had been sleeping in a van, was running from the CMHA cop.

The official narrative said that CMHA officers were responding to someone waving a gun and that Keith himself pointed a gun at them before they shot him. They neglected to mention that they shot him in the back.

Keith is former Boys & Girls Club member. An impassioned joint statement from the Boys & Girls Club and the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance Friday called for additional transparency, accountability and actual solutions to police violence in the wake of Keith's slaying.

We need the video from that tragic day. We need real leadership. We need to have a real assessment, analysis and subsequent plan of action that brings about the change that has been sought for decades. How long do our communities have to wait? We cannot do this solely through grass-roots community efforts and we cannot leave a problem at the feet of our communities that is not their responsibility to solve. The change we seek will not come about by simply bringing kids and officers together. As you may have learned this week, the CMHA officer who fired the fatal shot had participated in such programs at our Club, and Arthur was an attendee. Clearly, that does not work.

Today we are asking that leaders of the organizations of our community come together to solve this problem for our communities with us. We cannot continue to have members of the community meet to voice their concerns into a vacuum. The city and these organizations own the budgets, the resources, the training and the change management capabilities needed to drive sustainable change. We need to see them be present, listening, and charting pathways to make these changes with us. We want to partner but need them to engage in this conversation.
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