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

Courtesy of Ralph Yarl’s Family

(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.”

Merritt told ABC News on Monday that Ralph was released from the hospital on Saturday and is in the care of his doctors at home.

The identity of the shooter has not been released.

Amid questions over the suspect’s identity, a spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department told ABC News Monday afternoon “the name of a suspect in a crime only becomes public upon charges being filed by the prosecutor.”

“Investigators are diligently gathering evidence and investigating as we speak in the hopes to submit a case file to the prosecutors as soon as possible,” the spokesperson told ABC News. “Our next anticipated update is when we send the case file to the prosecutors for their review and determination of applicable charges. That has not happened yet. We will update the media and the public once that has happened.”

Asked if video of the incident is available, police said, “any video would be closed record at this stage of the ongoing investigation. Detectives will routinely canvass for video, witness accounts and anything else that would give them a better idea of what led up to the incident.”

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, 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.”

The Clay County, Missouri prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Monday that they “have not yet received a criminal referral from the Kansas City Police Department regarding this case.”

“However, we are actively working with law enforcement in an attempt to speed up that process so that we can review the file when it is submitted and determine whether criminal charges are appropriate,” the statement said. “As always, it is our mission to ensure that justice is fully pursued and that the rights of all people in Clay County are protected and upheld by law.”

ABC News has reached out to 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.

Asked why speaking Ralph is necessary to determine charges, police told ABC News on Monday that “Prosecutors require a sworn statement from victims of crimes when they are living to attest to the actions of the suspect before making an informed decision of charges.”

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.

ABC News’ Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

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