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Medical examiner says 19-year-old was fatally shot in the backside of armpit by CMHA officer

Arthur Keith.jpg
Posted at 4:47 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 19:12:54-05

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday that 19-year-old Arthur Keith was shot in the backside of his left armpit area by a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police officer.

“The gunshot wound proceeds from back to front, rightwards and downwards,” the medical examiner said on the course and direction of the gunshot.

The medical examiner released the following statement after the family held a news conference Thursday on the findings surrounding Keith's death:

“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 medical examiner ruled the cause of death from a “gunshot wound of trunk with visceral, vascular, skeletal, and soft tissue injuries.”

The manner of his death was ruled a homicide.

The medical examiner's report said Keith was a well-developed, well-nourished 19-year-old.

At the time of his death, investigators said Keith pointed a gun at an officer who then shot and killed him outside the King Kennedy housing complex on Nov. 13, 2020. Cleveland police said the officers secured a firearm from the teen before administering first aid.

However, weeks after the shooting during a news conference, Stanley Jackson, the attorney representing the family, said 10 witnesses disputed that claim.

"Mr. Keith did not pose a threat, Mr. Keith did not brandish a gun and Mr. Keith was attempting to run after being startled and awakened in a car while he was doing nothing but being there," said attorney Stanley Jackson.

On Thursday, Jackson said the autopsy report continues to contradict police claims about what happened.

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

Keith's aunt again called for greater transparency in the investigation, including renewed calls for CMHA leadership to release surveillance video of the shooting.

Matricia Givner said she will continue to fight for justice for her nephew in light of what she believed the autopsy report made clear.

"That Arthur was scared," said Givner. "That Arthur was moving away. Arthur was not a threat to the officers."

A team of attorneys with the Ohio Attorney General's Office's Special Prosecution team is reviewing the case to submit it to a grand jury.

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