By Manny Otiko | IVN
A recent shooting of a Black teenager in Kansas City, Mo. highlights the danger that Black men face in America. Ralph Yarl was sent by his parents to pick up his siblings at a local residence. He got confused about the location and rang the wrong doorbell. The owner of the house, Andrew D. Lester, responded with gunfire. According to police reports, after shooting the teenager through the door, Lester went outside, stood over the boy and fired again. Yarl was struck in the head and the arm.
The 16-year-old managed to flee the home and knocked on neighbors’ doors before finally collapsing in a driveway. Yarl survived the shooting and is currently recovering at his parents’ home. He is a talented student and musician who had a college scholarship, but now all that is in jeopardy.
His parents are originally from Liberia and came to the United States for a better life. Members of the Liberian community in Kansas City were distraught at the shooting knowing that it could have easily happened to them, according to The Washington Post.
Fannie Gibson, owner of an African restaurant, said Yarl didn’t deserve this.
“We all know Ralph,” she said. “He’s a quiet kid, doesn’t bother anyone, always reading, very respectful. When I heard about it, I was crying all day because I have a 15-year-old son. That could have been my son.”
The shooter was held briefly for 24 hours before police released him. But now he’s facing two felony charges (felony assault and armed criminal action.) The initial police report stated that the shooting may have had a racial element.
According to court papers, Lester said he was scared by Yarl’s size and appearance.
“He believed he was protecting himself from a physical confrontation and could not take the chance of the male coming in,” said the complaint.
The case has drawn both local and national attention with protesters staging demonstrations outside Lester’s home. Celebrities and politicians have weighed in on the shooting.
President Joe Biden has called the Yarl family. Hollywood actress Halle Berry also commented on the situation.
“His name is #RalphYarl and I’m sick and tired of this feeling…my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head,” said Berry in a Twitter post.
The Yarl family is being represented by attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt. Crump travels around the country seeking financial compensation for African Americans who have been victimized by violence.
“There is 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. 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,” according to a statement by Crump and Merritt.
In an interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings, Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, said he’s being cared for by family members, who are medical professionals, at home. She said it was a miracle that he survived the shooting.
A Gofundme account set up for the family has raised about $1.8 million.