The family of Ralph Yarl, a Missouri teen shot in the head, has retained high-profile civil rights attorneys in seeking a criminal case against the man who pulled the trigger.
“Ralph Yarl was picking up his younger brothers when he mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong house,” lawyer Benjamin Crump said.
“He was shot in the head by a white man who didn’t want him on his property,” co-counsel Lee Merritt wrote. “He shot him a 2nd time for emphasis. Ralph is fighting for his life. This man must be arrested. We are on our way.”
The incident happened Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri. Police Chief Stacey Graves told reporters that officers were called to the home just before 10 p.m. regarding a homeowner shooting the teenager in front of the residence.
According to a GoFundme campaign started by Yarl’s aunt Faith Spoonmore, the 16-year-old was on his way to pick up his twin younger brothers from their friend’s home a few blocks away from his house. Yarl, who did not have his phone, went to the wrong house by mistake, a block away from his real destination.
“He pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell,” his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said on the GoFundMe campaign page. “The man in the home opened the door, looked my nephew in the eye, and shot him in the head. My nephew fell to the ground, and the man shot him again. Ralph was then able to get up and run to the neighbor’s house, looking for help. Unfortunately, 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.”
Crump and Merritt said in a joint statement that Yarl had been shot twice, struck in the head and arm. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition but is alive and recovering.
“Life looks a lot different right now,” Spoonmore wrote. “Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally. The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable. He is our miracle. We have heard these types of stories many times, and unfortunately, most black boys are not alive to get another chance.”
The attorneys for Yarl’s family demand the shooter be charged.
“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, non-threatening and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell!” they said. “We demand swift action from Clay County prosecutors and law enforcement to identify, arrest and prosecute to the full extent of the law the man responsible for this horrendous and unjustifiable shooting.”
Graves told reporters Sunday that the investigation is ongoing.
Chief Graves spoke with media regarding updates in the case involving the juvenile who was shot Thursday night. pic.twitter.com/ZTHPbwWcto
— kcpolice (@kcpolice) April 16, 2023
She said that the homeowner was put on a 24-hour hold for a felony investigation, but under state law, had to be either released or charged at the end of it. Authorities let him go because the case needed evidence that would take more time to collect. That includes a “formal statement” from Yarl and forensic evidence. Police will submit the case to Clay County prosecutors for review.
“We recognize the frustration this can cause in the entire criminal justice process,” Graves said. “The women and men of the Kansas City Police Department are working as expeditiously and as thoroughly as we can to ensure the criminal justice process continues to advance as quickly as all involved and our community deserve.”
Spoonmore wrote glowingly of her nephew.
“Ralph Pual Yarl is a fantastic kid, and I am not just saying this because he is my nephew,” she said. “He truly is. At school, he is a member of the Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team. Jazz and competition band. He is a section leader in the marching band; a scholar and one of the top base clarinet players in Missouri. He recently earned Missouri All-State Band recognition with an honorable mention. He plays multiple instruments in the metropolitan youth orchestra. He is a 2022 Missouri scholar academy alumni. Ralph can often be found with a musical instrument. He loves them all.”
Yarl wanted to go to Texas A&M to major in chemical engineering and to visit West Africa before starting college. The campaign passed its $1 million goal as of Monday. Funds are meant for medical bills and therapy. Additional money will be used for Texas A&M, a trip to West Africa, and other expenses, she wrote.
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Ben Crump and Lee Merritt represent Ralph Yarl’s family
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