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Attorneys Seek Justice for Black Teen Shot for Ringing Wrong Doorbell

Ralph Yarl
Sixteen-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot twice in the head and arm by an unidentified white man. (Courtesy photo)

By Stacy M. Brown

Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt have been retained by the family of Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old Black boy who was shot twice in the head and arm by an unidentified white male assailant.  

Ralph was shot just before 10 p.m. on April 13, after accidentally ringing the doorbell of the wrong home while attempting to pick up his sibling.  

According to the Kansas City Defender, the white man reportedly shot Ralph in the head through the glass door, then when Yarl was already bleeding out on the ground, shot him again.  

“The family has described it as a hate crime, and community members are calling for justice for the young victim,” reported The Defender, a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The NNPA is a trade of more than 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies representing the Black Press of America. 


“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 Spoonmore, Ralph’s aunt, told The Defender. 

Authorities reportedly escorted the suspect to police headquarters following the shooting, briefly interviewed him and released the man. 

Ralph’s family said they are outraged that the perpetrator has not been held accountable. 

“This man intended to kill an innocent child simply because he rang the doorbell of the wrong house,” Spoonmore said. “He looked him in the face and shot him … and the individual is free to go about his day as if he did a great deed. While my nephew Ralph Yarl is a great kid, an intelligent kid, a Black boy is left with so many broken pieces.” 

Crump and Merritt, nationally recognized civil rights lawyers who have represented Ahmaud Arbery and Cameron Lamb, announced they would represent Ralph’s family. Shaun King, a well-known activist and journalist, announced that he’s also assisting with the case.  


The Defender, which was the first outlet to report the shooting, said the Yarl family has urged supporters to help spread awareness about the case and bring attention to the issue of racial violence in America. 

“There is 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,” Crump and Merritt said in a joint statement. “We demand swift action from 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.”

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