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New Details in Ralph Yarl Case: Homeowner May Be Protected By "Stand Your Ground" Law

Boy showed up to the wrong home to pick up his siblings.

People in a Kansas City, Missouri, community and on social media are demanding answers after 16-year-old Ralph Paul Yarl was shot last week. Yarl, who is Black, was looking for his siblings when he knocked on the wrong door around 10 p.m. on Thursday, mistaking that residence for one a block over, The Washington Post reported. The owner of the house shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the head, and one of those shots was fired when Yarl was on the ground, the teen's aunt said online. The incident attracted global attention this weekend when celebrities, including Viola Davis and Halle Berry, posted about it on their social media accounts. These are the newest details about the case.

Gunman Charged With Two Felonies


On Monday afternoon, Clay County prosecutors charged Andrew Lester, 85, who is White, with felony assault and armed criminal action, one of which holds a life sentence upon conviction. "There was a racial component to this case," prosecutor Zachary Thompson said.

Injured Teen Now out of the Hospital


Hospital officials say one bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of Yarl's brain, NBC News reported. But he had recovered sufficiently to be released from the hospital on Saturday, the Kansas City Star said Monday afternoon. Doctors are optimistic about his recovery. "He continues to improve. He's responsive, and he's making good progress," the teen's father, Paul Yarl, told the news outlet.

Shooter Briefly Held by Police, Then Released


On Sunday, protesters gathered in the Kansas City neighborhood where Yarl was shot after it was reported that the shooter was held by police and released within hours without being named or charged with a crime. "We want charges. That's what we want," the teen's father told KMBC.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said 24 hours is the longest a felony suspect can be held until charges are filed. "After consulting with the Clay County prosecutor's office, the homeowner was released pending further investigation due to the need to obtain a formal statement from the victim and compile additional information for a case file to be presented," the chief said.

Homeowner May Be Protected By "Stand Your Ground" Law


Missouri has what is popularly known as a "stand your ground" law—a person is legally protected when using lethal force "to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself." A person claiming that defense must prove they were acting in self-defense.

Experts Are Not Convinced

Blue light flasher atop of a police car

"You can't just shoot people who come to your door," criminal defense attorney Kevin Jamison told the Kansas City Star on Monday.

"You have to do more than just say I felt threatened, you have to have proof that something threatening was going on," said Daniel Webster, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, told the Washington Post.

Neighbor Describes Yarl's State After Shooting

Ben Crump Law

A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told CNN she called 911 after an injured Yarl came to her door. The emergency operator directed her to stay inside for her safety because the shooter's location was unknown. "I wanted to help him, but they kept saying that we don't know where the shooter is at," the woman said. She went outside with towels to stanch Yarl's bleeding. "I kneeled down next to him, and I said what's your name … Who shot you?" she said.

He Was Supposed to Pick up His Brothers


Yarl explained he "was supposed to pick up my brothers." "We figured out then he went to the wrong street, which is no excuse for what happened," she said. "This is somebody's child. I had to clean blood off of my door, off of my railing. That was someone's child's blood. I'm a mom … this is not OK." The neighbor kept Yarl talking until the ambulance arrived. She said he told her he ran on the high school track team and played the bass clarinet in the band. "He was very alert," she said. "He is a very strong man. Very brave."

Chief Says Police Are Listening


Over the weekend, Graves said detectives are working "as expeditiously and as thoroughly as we can" and will build a solid foundation for prosecution. "As soon as the case is complete, it will be presented to the Clay County prosecutor for their review," she said. "I want everyone to know that I am listening, and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community," she added.

Noted Civil Rights Attorneys Have Taken Case


On Sunday, nationally prominent civil rights attorneys Lee Merritt and Ben Crump said they were taking Yarl's case, NBC News reported. They criticized Kansas City officials for releasing the person who opened fire, who they said is a white man. "There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect," the lawyers said.

Attorney Says It's Racial Profiling


Family attorney Ben Crump said the shooting was a racial profiling incident. "We have been informed by his family that it was a White man who shot their 16-year-old son," Crump told CNN. "It is inescapable not to observe the racial dynamics here," said Crump. "If the roles were reversed," he continued, "how much outrage would there be in America?"

Family Explains Address Mistake

Family Photo Handout

Police were told the teenager's parents had asked him to pick up his siblings at an address on 115th Terrace, but he accidentally went to a home on 115th Street, where he was shot, CNN reported. "Ralph Yarl was picking up his younger brothers when he mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong house. A man shot Ralph twice and now he's in critical condition. His family needs support during this tragedy," Crump tweeted.

Mayor Says "Thorough" Investigation Proceeding


Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said a "thorough" investigation was underway. "We will make sure we do all we can to be fair, to make sure we're as expeditious as possible and more than anything to make sure that everyone, no matter their background, knows that justice can be obtained here in Kansas City," he said. "As a parent, I certainly feel for the mother of the victim and others in the family. My heart goes out to them," the mayor added.

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