Kansas City, Mo. (AP) — The investigation into the homeowner shooting of Ralph Yarl, a black teenager who went to the wrong house to pick up his younger siblings, includes questions about whether race played a role, Kansas City officials said. said.
Police are quickly preparing evidence for prosecutors in Thursday’s shooting, Chief Stacey Graves said at a news conference at police headquarters on Sunday.
“I want everyone to know I’m listening and I understand the concern we’re getting from the community,” Graves said.
Kansas City Star reported The 16-year-old victim, identified online by family members as Yarl, was shot and hospitalized Thursday night while trying to pick up his younger twin brothers from a friend’s house. He went to the wrong house and was shot dead there, police said.
Authorities have not confirmed how many times the homeowner shot the victim or where his wounds were. Yarl is stable but has non-life-threatening injuries, police initially said. His current condition has not been released, other than that he is stable.
Police have not identified the shooter or his race, although civil rights attorney Ben Crump told The Star that the shooter was white. Graves said the current information from authorities does not indicate that the shooting was racially motivated, but that aspect remains under investigation.
Investigators will also consider whether or not the suspect is protected by “stand your ground” laws, Graves said.
Yarl was about to pick up his brothers from a friend’s house on 115th Terrace. He ended up ringing the doorbell at a house on 115th Street, the teen’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, wrote online.
A man opened the door, saw Yaral and shot him in the head. When Yarl fell to the ground, the man shot him again. Yarl got up and ran off the property, but he had to ask at three different houses before someone helped him, Spoonmore wrote.
Kansas City police officers said they responded around 10 p.m
Graves said Sunday that the homeowner was taken into custody Thursday and placed under 24-hour custody. While searching for evidence at the scene, detectives found the gun used. Law enforcement consulted with the Clay County District Attorney’s Office and released the suspect pending further investigation.
Missouri law allows a person to be detained for up to 24 hours pending a criminal investigation. At that point, the person must be released or arrested and properly charged. To arrest someone, law enforcement needs a formal victim report, forensic evidence and other information to complete a case file, Graves said.
Because of Deans’ injuries, Graves said, police were unable to obtain a statement from the victim.
Mayor Quinton Lucas, who attended the news conference, said police understand the community’s concern that the shooting may be racially motivated. At a protest on Sunday in the area where the shooting took place, some members of the police department listened to the community’s concerns.
“It is in no way dismissed, marginalized or diminished. “This is a matter that deserves the full attention of the Kansas City Police Department,” Lucas said.
Crump told The Star on Sunday that the family has retained his Florida-based law firm.
“If somebody knocks on your door, you can’t just shoot people without justification if they knock on your door,” Crump said. “This guy should be charged.”
Crump represented the families Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown as well as Ahmed Arbery, Brona Taylor and George Floyd among many other high-profile cases.
Crump said the homeowner initially shot Deans in the head and a second time after the boy fell to the ground. The family has also retained Lee Merritt, a Texas-based civil rights attorney who represented the family of Cameron Lamb, who was shot and killed by Kansas City police detective Eric DeValkenaire in 2019.
Based on what the teen’s family said, the shooter was white, Crump said.
“It’s inevitable not to acknowledge the racial dynamics at play,” he said.
Yarl is “doing well physically, he’s on a long road mentally and emotionally,” Spoonmore wrote on GoFundMe, where she started raising money for Yarl’s medical bills and other expenses.