Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said Monday that the police “recognize the racial components of the case” of an 84-year-old white man who shot a 16-year-old teenager who mistook an address.
Police released the mugshot of 84-year-old Andrew Lester after charging him with first degree assault. He’s accused of shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl twice, including once in the head.
Yarl was hospitalized Thursday night after he was shot while trying to pick up his younger brothers from a friend’s house. Police say he’d gone to the wrong address—confusing 115th Terrace and 115th Street—when Lester shot him through a closed glass door. Yarl spent three nights in the hospital.
According to his aunt, the young Black teenager got up and ran from the property after being shot, but he had to ask at three different homes before someone helped him.
Police say Lester was initially taken into custody and placed on a 24-hour hold. Detectives found the firearm used while searching the scene. Law enforcement released the suspect pending further investigation at that point after consulting with the Clay County prosecutor’s office.
Following Lester’s arrest Monday, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson echoed Graves’ assertion that there was a “racial component” to the shooting, but added that there was nothing in the charging documents specifying that the shooting was racially motivated.
On Sunday Graves had said that investigators would consider whether or not the suspect was protected by “Stand Your Ground” laws.
In a statement Monday, the civil rights attorneys representing Yarl, Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, said President Biden had spoken with the teen and his family.
“Gun violence against unarmed Black individuals must stop. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted,” the attorneys’ statement said.