White Homeowner Claims Self-Defense In Shooting of Black Teen Ralph Yarl Who Rang the Wrong Doorbell; Attorney Maintains There’s ‘No Evidence’ That Race Played a Role

The white Kansas City, Missouri, homeowner who shot a Black teenager who rang the man’s doorbell after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings pleaded not guilty to charges related to the incident and will wait a year to go to trial.

Both the Clay County prosecutor and Kansas City mayor believe that race played a part in his rash decision to shoot the minor. However, Lester’s defense attorney argues that that’s not the case.

Andrew Lester, 85, made headlines in the spring after shooting Ralph Yarl, 16, on April 13. During a brief courtroom arraignment, where he did not speak on his own behalf, his lawyers entered a “not guilty” plea for first-degree assault and armed criminal action charges.

White Homeowner Claims Self-Defense In Shooting of Black Teen Ralph Yarl Who Rang the Wrong Doorbell; Attorney Maintains There's 'No Evidence' That Race Played a Role
Andrew Lester, right, admitted to shooting Ralph Yarl, left. (Photos: GoFundMe/Twitter)

Lester shot Yarl, who mistakenly went to the wrong address to pick up his younger siblings, in the head and arm. Lawyers for the boy say that the boy is recovering but not without difficulty.

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The senior citizen says he is also having a difficult time and has been harassed. Because his home has been vandalized, he claims he has had to relocate several times.

During the Sept. 20 arraignment, some of the teen’s supporters wore shirts that read, “Ringing a doorbell is not a crime.” A bailiff asked them to switch their shirts inside out before the proceedings.

According to an interview with FOX 4, family friend Philip Barolle said, “He said nothing to anybody to get shot. It’s a problem.”

“If I came to your house, if I made a mistake, ring your doorbell, you have two options. Don’t come out, call the police.”

The court will permit him to remain home on bond pending his trial, which is scheduled for Oct. 7, 2024.

Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson said that while he believes race played a part in the crime, he did not add hate charges to the counts.

He still insisted that “there was a racial component to this case” at a press conference in April, according to CNN.

“To pretend that race is not a part of this whole situation would be to have your head in the sand,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “This boy was shot because he was existing while Black.”

He believes the minor was racially profiled by Lester.

However, Lester’s lawyer dismissed the profiling claims, saying there was “no evidence” to support his client had a racial bias when he shot the child. He claims this was self-defense, according to FOX 4.

Attorney Steven Salmon added that the defendant thought the teen was trying to gain access to the house, stating, “There was an admission that Yarl grabbed the storm door handle of Lester’s door to gain access to the house.”

On that day, according to a probable cause document, Lester says he shot the boy because he was pulling on his door handle but never shouted out a warning and fired through the locked glass door. He also claimed he was “scared to death” because of the boy’s size.

“He’s the least imposing kid that I’ve come across. He is a 16-year-old musician. He is not known for his physical prowess,” attorney Lee Merritt said after the incident.

The teen, who is 5 feet 8 and 140 pounds, denies this, saying he never pulled on the door and only rang the bell.

While the trial is set for 2024, the next court date is set for Dec. 15 in Missouri’s Clay County Circuit Court.

Read the full story at Atlanta Black Star.

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