Kansas City

Black Teen Shot After Going to the Wrong House to Pick Up Siblings, Kansas City Police Say

Hundreds of community members marched Sunday in Kansas City calling for accountability and demanding prosecutors charge the homeowner

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A Black teenager was shot by a homeowner after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his younger twin brothers from a family friend's house.

The Kansas City Star reported the 16-year-old boy, who family members have identified online as Ralph Yarl, rang the doorbell and was immediately shot by the homeowner who answered it.

Yarl was meant to pick up his brothers from a friend’s house on 115th Terrace. He ended up ringing the doorbell at a home on 115th Street, Faith Spoonmore, the teen’s aunt, wrote online.

A man opened the door, saw Yarl and shot him in the head. When Yarl fell to the ground, the man shot him again. Yarl got up and ran from the property, but he had to ask at three different homes before someone helped him, Spoonmore said.

Officials would not confirm the number of times the homeowner shot the victim or where his injuries were.

Police initially said Yarl was in stable condition but had a life-threatening injury. His current condition has not been released, other than he is stable.

“Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally,” Spoonmore wrote in a GoFundMe she started to raise money for Yarl’s medical bills and other expenses.

Police have not identified the shooter or his race. Information that officials have now does not point to the crime being racially motivated, but Police Chief Stacey Graves said that aspect remains under investigation.

Graves said Sunday that the homeowner who allegedly shot the teen was taken into custody Thursday and placed on a 24-hour hold. While searching the scene for evidence, detectives found the firearm allegedly used. Law enforcement released the suspect pending further investigation after consulting with the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hundreds of community members marched Sunday in Kansas City calling for accountability and demanding prosecutors charge the homeowner, according to NBC affiliate KSHB.

Kansas City police said they working to quickly prepare evidence for the Clay County prosecutor in the shooting.

“I want everyone to know that I am listening,” Graves said Sunday at a news conference at Kansas City police headquarters downtown, “and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community.”

Investigators also will consider whether or not the suspect was protected within the Stand Your Ground laws, Graves said.

Missouri law allows a person to be held up to 24 hours for a felony investigation. At that point, the person must be released or arrested and formally charged. In order to arrest someone, law enforcement needs a formal victim statement, forensic evidence and other information for a case file to be completed, Graves said.

Because of the teen’s injuries, Graves said police haven’t been able to get a victim statement.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, who attended the news conference, said the police department understands the community’s concern that the shooting could be racially motivated. He said some members of the police department attended Sunday’s protest in the neighborhood where the shooting took place to listen to community members’ concerns.

“This is not something that has been dismissed, marginalized or diminished in any way. This is something that is getting the full attention of the Kansas City Police Department," Lucas said.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump told The Star on Sunday that his Florida-based law firm has been retained by the teen’s family.

“You can’t just shoot people without having justification when somebody comes knocking on your door and knocking on your door is not justification. This guy should be charged,” Crump said.

Crump has represented the families in several high-profile cases including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, as well as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

He said the homeowner initially shot the teen in the head and then a second time after the boy fell to the ground. The family also has retained Lee Merritt, a Texas-based civil rights attorney who has previously represented the family of Cameron Lamb, who was fatally shot by KCPD detective Eric DeValkenaere in 2019.

Crump said based on what he was told by the teen’s family, the shooter is white.

“It is inescapable not to acknowledge the racial dynamics at play,” he said.

The Associated Press/NBC
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