Homeowner Charged in Teen's Shooting at Door

Ralph Yarl, 16, is hospitalized after arriving to pick up siblings
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2023 11:55 AM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2023 5:30 PM CDT
Homeowner Shoots Teen Who Went to Wrong Address
Thea Davis, pastor at Restore Community Church, left, addresses a crowd of protestors before a march Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri, to bring attention to the shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, who was shot when he went to the wrong Kansas City house to pick up his brothers.   (Susan Pfannmuller/The Kansas City Star via AP)
UPDATE Apr 17, 2023 5:30 PM CDT

Missouri prosecutors announced charges late Monday against the white man who shot a Black teenager who came to his Kansas City front door by mistake. Andrew Lester, 85, faces assault in the first degree and armed criminal action charges, both felonies, per CNN. "I can tell you there was a racial component to this case," said Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson, though he didn't elaborate. "We understand how frustrating this has been, but I can assure the criminal justice system is working and will continue to work," he added, per the AP.

Apr 17, 2023 11:55 AM CDT

The shooting of a Black teenager in Kansas City is threatening to become the latest flashpoint in the national discussion of race relations. The details:

  • Shooting: On Thursday night, police say 16-year-old Ralph Yarl set out to pick up his younger twin brothers from 115th Terrace, but he mistakenly went to 115th Street instead, reports the Kansas City Star. Police say the homeowner at the latter address shot Yarl, who remains hospitalized with what police initially called life-threatening injuries. His current condition is listed only as stable.

  • Race: Police have not identified the homeowner or his race. Police Chief Stacey Graves said initial evidence did not point to race being a factor, but that is still under investigation, per the AP. In a statement, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are representing Yarl's family, said Yarl was "shot twice and struck in the head and arm by an unidentified white male assailant."
  • Investigation: The homeowner was put on a 24-hour hold after the shooting, then released, and no charges have been filed, per the Washington Post. One factor is that investigators still need to obtain a formal statement from Yarl, who has been unable to speak with them. "I want everyone to know that I am listening," Graves said Sunday, "and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community." Another aspect of the investigation is whether the homeowner is protected by Stand Your Ground laws. The shooting took place about 10pm.
  • Attorneys: Crump and Lee have represented families in other high-profile cases, including those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. "You can’t just shoot people without having justification when somebody comes knocking on your door and knocking on your door is not justification," Crump tells the Kansas City Star. "This guy should be charged."
  • The victim. Yarl's aunt, Faith Spoonmore, has started a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses, the AP reports. She describes Yarl as a "fantastic kid" who is a gifted musician and a member of his school's Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team. She says that after he was shot, he was able to run for help, but "he had to run to 3 different homes before someone finally agreed to help him after he was told to lie on the ground with his hands up."
(More Kansas City stories.)

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