Family of Ralph Yarl, KC teenager shot after going to wrong house to pick up his siblings, demands justice


(KANSAS City, Mo.) — A 16-year-old Black teenager was shot on Thursday night by a homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri, after he accidentally went to the wrong address to pick up his siblings, police said.

Kansas City police told reporters on Sunday that the teenager, Ralph Yarl, meant to go to a house on Northeast 115th Terrace, but he went to 115th Street instead. They said he was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition as of Sunday evening.

The teenager was identified as Ralph Yarl by his family. Attorney Lee Merritt confirmed to ABC News on Sunday that he and attorney Ben Crump have been retained to represent Ralph’s family.

Merritt and Crump said in a statement on Sunday that Ralph was shot in the head and the arm and “despite the severity of his injuries,” the teenager is “alive and recovering.”

The identity of the shooter has not been released.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said during a press conference Sunday evening that after the shooting, the individual who shot the teenager was taken into police custody and placed on a 24-hour investigative hold but has since been released while police investigate and present evidence to the prosecutor’s office.

“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, forensic evidence and compile additional information for a case file to be presented,” Graves said.

The suspect’s release prompted protests in the city, according to ABC News affiliate in Kansas City, KMBC-TV, with hundreds of people taking to the streets on Sunday to demand justice for Ralph.

Merritt and Crump said in a statement on Sunday the family is demanding “swift action from the 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 on Sunday that police “recognize the frustration” the suspect’s release “can cause in the entire criminal justice process,” but that the Kansas City police are working “expeditiously” and “thoroughly” to present the case to the Clay County prosecutor’s office to “ensure the criminal justice process continues to advance as quickly as all involved and our community deserve.”

Asked if the shooting was “racially motivated,” Graves said there’s “no indication,” but added it’s “still an active investigation” and “as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case.”

ABC News has reached out to police and the prosecutor’s office for further comment.

Police said they plan to get a formal statement from the teenager once his medical condition allows for him to speak with law enforcement.

“I believe that he’s stable, and we’re looking forward to have an opportunity to go ahead and take a statement from him,” Graves said.

Quinton Lucas, the mayor of Kansas City, said during the press conference on Sunday that there will be a “thorough review” of the incident by the prosecutor’s office to determine if any charges will be filed.

“As with every case that comes through Kansas City, we will make sure we do all we can to be fair, to make sure that 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,” Lucas said.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.