The Kansas City Police Department has charged Andrew Lester in the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, who was shot when he went to the wrong house to pick up his twin siblings last week, reports CNN.
Zachary Thompson, DA of Clay County, announced on Monday evening that Lester 84, will face two felony charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.
Although he has not yet been detained, a warrant has been issued for his arrest and his bond has been set at $200,000.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said at a news conference. He also stated that in Missouri, “a hate crime is a lower level of felony, and adding such charges could constitute double jeopardy.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-counselor Lee Merritt, who are representing the Yarl family, released a statement following the announcement of the charges against Lester.
“Moments after the family got off the phone with President Biden, who offered his prayers for Ralph’s health and for justice, we learned that the prosecutor will be charging the man who is responsible for the deplorable shooting of this innocent boy,” read their joint statement.
“Gun violence against unarmed Black individuals must stop. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery,” the statement continued.
The tragic shooting took place on April 13, 2023 when Yarl was trying to pick up his younger siblings from a house on Thursday evening in the 1100 block of NE 115th Terrace. Instead, he mistakenly ended up at the wrong address. After knocking on the door, he was shot twice by Lester—once in the head—with a .32 revolver, according to Thompson.
Lester was taken into police custody for questioning on the night of the shooting but released pending further investigation.
“In this case, the prosecutor requires more information from investigators that would take more than 24 hours to compile,” KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said Sunday.
After community members harshly criticized law enforcement for their handling of the case, Thompson stated that his only goal is to bring justice on Yarl’s behalf.
“My heart goes out to the child and family involved in this case,” he said. “My goal during this process has been and will remain to be seeking justice for him.”
In the state of Missouri, the maximum punishment for the assault charge is life in prison; armed criminal action carries a 3-15 year prison sentence.