An attorney representing the 16-year-old Kansas City teenager who police say was shot in the head last week when he went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings has posted the first image of the young man following his hospital release, saying it’s “truly a miracle” his injuries weren’t worse.
The photo of Ralph Yarl posted by Lee Merritt on Twitter comes as Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old charged with one count of armed assault and one count of armed criminal action in relation to the April 13 shooting, pleaded not guilty in a courtroom appearance Wednesday.
“Ralph Yarl is home and recovering! How the bullet in his head did not cause more extensive damage is truly a miracle,” Meritt wrote alongside the photo. “To God be the glory!”
Yarl was released from a hospital Sunday and is recovering from gunshot wounds to the head and arm. He had gone to the wrong house to pick up his siblings when he was shot through a glass door after ringing a doorbell, police said.
Some civil rights leaders and Merritt have urged the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting and for prosecutors to charge Lester with a hate crime, with Merritt noting that Yarl “was armed only with his Black skin.”
But Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson said first-degree assault is a higher-level crime, allowing a sentence of up to life in prison, which is more than a hate-crime charge would carry.
Lester told police that he had just gone to bed when he heard the doorbell ring, so he picked up his revolver and went to the front door, where he saw Yarl pulling on the exterior storm door handle, according to a probable cause statement.
Lester, who lives alone, told officers he was “scared to death” and fired twice. Yarl disputes that he pulled on the storm door handle and said he was shot in the arm after falling to the ground. He picked himself up and ran away as Lester yelled, “Don’t come around here,” according to the statement.
Merritt said Yarl’s relatives did not attend Lester’s court appearance Wednesday because they were emotionally exhausted, according to The Associated Press.
He added that Yarl is “completely humbled” by the support he has received in the wake of the shooting.
Lester is free Thursday after posting 10% of his $200,000 bond and has agreed to give up any weapons, have his cell phone monitored and have no contact with the 16-year-old’s family, The Associated Press also reported.
Lester had turned himself in to police on Tuesday.
President Biden said the same day that he had the opportunity to call Yarl and his family.
“No parent should have to worry that their kid will be shot after ringing the wrong doorbell. We’ve got to keep up the fight against gun violence,” Biden tweeted.
“And Ralph, we’ll see you in the Oval once you feel better,” the president also said.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano, Paul Best and The Associated Press contributed to this report.