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Family of 16-Year-Old Shot in Alleged “Wrong House” Incident Retain Ben Crump and Lee Merritt

A story broken by the Kansas City Defender, a family is claiming that their 16-year-old son, Ralph Yarl, was shot twice at the front door of a man after appearing at the wrong home as he attempted to pick up a sibling.

According to news reports, Ralph Yarl, who is Black, was shot twice by a white man in North Kansas City. The man who shot Yarl was later questioned and released by police. The reaction that has followed after reports of Ralph Yarl’s shooting by the Kansas City Defender has been strong and pointed.

“This was not an ‘error,’ this was a hate crime. You don’t shoot a child in the head because he rang your doorbell. The fact that the police said it was an ‘error’ is why America is the way it is,” Dr. Faith Spoonmorethe told the Kansas City Defender. Spoonmorethe is an aunt of Ralph Yarl.

“There can be 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!” Our offices have been retained to seek justice for Ralph Yarl. We demand immediate action,” wrote attorney Lee Merritt of Texas on social media on April 16.

“We’ve been retained by Ralph Yarl and his family following the unjustifiable shooting of the 16-year old by an unidentified white male assailant. Lee Merritt and our legal team demand Clay County prosecutors and law enforcement swiftly identify, arrest and prosecute the man responsible,” wrote attorney Ben Crump on the evening of April 16.

The Yarl shooting happens as the country is gripped in debate about the rise in gun homicides. The number of mass shootings has also risen over the last two years.

“Ralph Yarl, 16, was shot twice by a white man in Kansas City after accidentally ringing the doorbell of the wrong home. The man shot Ralph in the head through his glass door, and then when Yarl was already bleeding out on the ground, shot him again,” wrote Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts.

“My goodness…let’s be for justice, which is a continuum. That means the man who did this should be charged AND we need to work for the legislative and heart change to prevent these tragedies,” wrote Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Protest events are scheduled in support of Ralph Yarl in the community to demand justice.

“The Yarl family is urging supporters to help spread awareness about the case and bring attention to the issue of racial violence in America,” reports the Kansas City Defender.

The engagement of Attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt confirm that the Yarl case is likely to gain national media attention.

Crump rose to national prominence in 2012 when he represented the family of Trayvon Martin, who was murdered by a self-proclaimed “neighborhood watch” volunteer in Sanford, Florida. Crump’s advocacy helped bring attention to the case and led to the indictment of Martin’s killer — George Zimmerman.

Since then, Crump has continued to represent families of victims of police brutality and other civil rights violations, including the families of Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. He has also been involved in advocacy efforts to reform the criminal justice system and end police brutality.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE and the founder of Black Virginia News. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke


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