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Monday, April 17, 2023

84-Year-Old Charged in Shooting of Black Teen Who Knocked on the Wrong Door

Ralph Yarl

Nationwide — Andrew D. Lester, the 84-year-old man who shot Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old Black boy from Kansas City after he mistakenly went to his house, has been charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. The charges were announced by Clay County prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson on Monday afternoon, following mounting pressure from the community, which included protests outside Mr. Lester’s home.

Ralph had been sent to pick up his younger twin brothers from a friend’s house on Thursday evening, but he mistakenly went to Mr. Lester’s address on Northeast 115 Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace. When he knocked on Mr. Lester’s door, the man, who is white, opened it and shot Ralph in the head and arm after he fell. Ralph managed to make his way to a nearby house while bleeding, and someone called for help.

Mr. Lester was initially taken into custody by the police for 24 hours but was released without charges on Friday. However, over the weekend, as Ralph Yarl lay critically injured in a hospital, anger began to spread in the community, and protesters marched on Mr. Lester’s home on Sunday. Kansas City police chief Stacey Graves acknowledged the public frustration at a news conference.

According to The New York Times, it was not clear if the teenager had knocked on Mr. Lester’s door or rang the doorbell, but according to the prosecutor, Ralph did not “cross the threshold” into Mr. Lester’s home, and the probable cause statement did not indicate that any words were exchanged. The prosecutor stated that there was a racial component to the case, and the charges against Mr. Lester carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City expressed his heartbreak and anger about the situation before the charges were announced on Monday. He stated that he would encourage “an expeditious conclusion of at least the beginning of an investigation” and urged the Police Department to share evidence with the Clay County prosecutor’s office.

The announcement of charges against Mr. Lester came as a relief to many in the community who were outraged by the shooting of Ralph. The incident has highlighted the issue of racial profiling and discrimination, which remains a significant problem in many parts of the United States. The shooting has also raised questions about the need for stricter gun control laws to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

The incident has sparked a national conversation about race relations, police brutality, and the need for social justice reform. It has also reignited the debate about the role of the criminal justice system in addressing issues of systemic racism and inequality. Many activists and civil rights advocates are calling for sweeping changes to the justice system to ensure that cases like Ralph’s are handled more fairly and justly.