White homeowner, 84, charged with shooting dead black teen who knocked on wrong door | US News
A white homeowner has been accused of shooting dead a black teenager who rang the wrong doorbell when picking up his younger brothers.
Andrew Lester, 84, shot and killed 16-year-old honor student Ralph Yarl twice on his doorstep in Kansas City, Missouri, last Thursday night.
The shooting sparked outrage across the country, with celebrities and political leaders – including President Joe Biden – demanding justice.
Prosecutor Zachary Thompson told reporters there was a “racial component” to the crime.
But nothing in the record indicates the shooting was racially motivated, and Lester is not facing hate crime charges.
He is charged with first-degree assault, which carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment, and armed criminal activity, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
A warrant has been issued but Lester has not yet been arrested, Mr Thompson said.
He was first arrested for questioning and then released, sparking citywide protests on Sunday.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family, questioned why Lester wasn’t immediately arrested and charged.
“We all believe that if the roles had been reversed and this had been a black citizen shooting a 16-year-old for just ringing his doorbell, they would have arrested him and he would not have been in his bed that night slept.” he said.
On Monday, protesters chanted “Black Lives Are Attacked” and “Rise Stand Up” at Lester’s home, which was spray painted and decorated with eggs.
Ralph’s parents had asked him to pick up his brothers at a house on 115th Terrace, but he mistakenly went to 115th Street and approached Lester’s door at around 10 p.m.
Lester shot him through the glass in the forehead – then he shot again in the right forearm.
There is no indication that either spoke to the other beforehand and there is no video surveillance of the encounter.
After being shot, Ralph went to three nearby houses before anyone would help him, his family said.
Missouri is one of about 30 states with Stand Your Ground laws, which allow the use of lethal force in self-defense.
Lester told police he lives alone and was just going to bed when he heard his doorbell ring, according to the probable cause statement.
He said he took his gun and walked to the door where he saw a black man pulling the outside handle on the storm door and thought someone was breaking in.
Ralph’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said he was “fine physically” but had a lot of trauma to overcome emotionally.
Mr. Crump and another family attorney, Lee Merritt, said in a statement that President Biden called them and offered “prayers for Ralph’s health and for justice.”
“Gun violence against unarmed black people must stop,” the attorneys’ statement said.
“We want our children to feel safe, not hunted.”
Academy Award winner Viola Davis, Justin Timberlake, Halle Berry and Kerry Washington, and Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes are among the celebrities who have condemned the shooting.
A GoFundMe account set up to pay for Ralph’s medical recovery has raised more than $2.1million (£1.7million).
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