A Black teenager in Kansas City, Missouri, was shot last Thursday after ringing the doorbell at the wrong house while attempting to pick his younger sibling up from their friend’s home. According to CBS News, the identity of the shooter hasn’t been released and his race hasn’t been revealed, but according to Ralph’s family, he was white. Despite the fact that on its face, this appears to be a story where a white man saw a Black teen on his property and immediately fired away at him, KC investigators say they haven’t found evidence that the attack was racially motivated, and after taking the shooter into custody for 24 hours, he was released. Now, the community in KC wants answers as to why the shooter is free, and, over the weekend, protesters gathered in front of the home where the incident took place.
“My nephew Ralph Pual Yarl was on his way to pick up his twin younger brothers from their friend’s house a few blocks away from his house,” the 16-year-old’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, wrote on social media. “He didn’t have his phone. He mistakenly went to the wrong house, one block away from the house where his siblings were. He pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell. 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.”
Spoonmore told the same story in a video posted to Tik Tok.
So, obviously, people want to know why the man who shot Ralph has been released. According to Police Chief Stacey Graves, investigators have to consider if the shooter is protected by Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which is an automatic reminder of why George Zimmerman is still a free man after killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Graves also said the law in Missouri prevented authorities from holding the shooter any longer than 24 hours.
Graves said Sunday that the homeowner who allegedly shot the teen was taken into custody Thursday and placed on a 24-hour hold. While searching the scene for evidence, detectives found the firearm allegedly used. Law enforcement released the suspect pending further investigation after consulting with the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office.
Missouri law allows a person to be held up to 24 hours for a felony investigation. At that point, the person must be released or arrested and formally charged. In order to arrest someone, law enforcement needs a formal victim statement, forensic evidence and other information for a case file to be completed, Graves said.
Because of the teen’s injuries, Graves said police haven’t been able to get a victim statement.
Graves noted that in Missouri, “the vast majority of cases, to include violent crime, involve the suspect being released pending the investigation.”
“I want everyone to know that I am listening and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community,” Graves said during a news conference Sunday. “This is not something that has been dismissed, marginalized, diminished in any way. This is something that is getting the full attention of the Kansas City Police Department.”
Civil attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt are among the attorneys representing Ralph’s family.
“You can’t just shoot people without having justification when somebody comes knocking on your door and knocking on your door is not justification, Crump told the Kansas City Star. “This guy should be charged.”
Officials haven’t confirmed where on his body Ralph was shot or how many times, but they have reported that he’s currently in stable condition after suffering life-threatening injuries. We pray for his full recovery and that he and his family receive justice.
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