Kansas City Homeowner Is Charged In Shooting Of Black Teen
Authorities have announced charges against a Kansas City, Missouri, man accused of shooting a 16-year-old Black teen who had mistakenly gone to the man’s home to pick up his younger siblings.
Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said at a Monday news conference that he’s filed two felony counts against Andrew Lester, an 85-year-old white man: assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. The announcement came less than an hour after Kansas City police said they submitted their investigation to the prosecutor’s office for review.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Lester, with bond set at $200,000.
Lester twice shot Ralph Yarl, in the head and arm, on Thursday night after the high school junior rang his doorbell, mistakenly thinking he was at the house where he was supposed to pick up his twin younger brothers.
According to the probable cause statement, Lester shot his .32-caliber revolver through the glass of his front door. Yarl never entered the home, and there were no words exchanged between the two. There is also no video of the shooting, according to Thompson.
Officers responding to a 911 call on Thursday found Yarl in front of a nearby home, according to the probable cause statement. A witness told police they heard Yarl screaming that he was shot after Lester fired his gun.
“The witness observed him knock on neighbors’ doors asking for help. The witness did not see the shooting,” the statement said, confirming an earlier statement by Yarl’s aunt that the teen visited several homes in the neighborhood before someone finally helped him.
Yarl was released from the hospital on Sunday and is being cared for at home by his family, according to the Kansas City Star.
“Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally,” his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said on the family’s GoFundMe page for Yarl. “The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable.”
Crump said Yarl is still struggling with stress from the ordeal but he and his family are happy he is alive after being shot in the head. Because Yarl is young and strong, he said, they hope for a full recovery.
Thompson said he thinks there “was a racial component” in the shooting.
“In Clay County, we enforce the laws and we follow the laws,” he said. “That does not matter where you come from, what you look like, [or] how much money you have.”
Yarl’s family has retained famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said before the news conference that it “is inescapable not to acknowledge the racial dynamics at play.”
Thompson said that he decided against charging Lester with attempted murder because under Missouri law, first-degree assault carries a longer punishment. If Lester is convicted of that charge, he could face 30 years to life. The second charge could bring a sentence of three to 15 years.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Ralph Yarl was killed. He was seriously wounded in the shooting.