KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A judge on Wednesday ordered a white man to stand trial and face charges that he shot a Black teenager who rang his doorbell after coming to the wrong address.
Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old white man charged with alleged first-degree assault and armed criminal action in connection to the violent April 13 incident in Kansas City had his arraignment set for Sept. 20.
The victim, Ralph Yarl, testified Wednesday before Clay County Judge Louis Angles that he was backing away from the house when shots rang out.
The teen testified in Wednesday’s preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to allow the case to proceed to trial.
Yarl recalled ringing the doorbell and hearing no answer for an extended amount of time. Lester eventually came to the door, showing a gun and saying, “Don’t come here ever again.” Yarl testified.
The victim said he then backed away from the door before Yarl shot him in the head before a second round hit him in the arm, Yarl testified.
The shooting sparked another national conversation on use of force, by police and citizens, on Black Americans.
The teenager’s mother, father, aunt, grandfather and his dad’s cousin were in court and wearing matching T-shirts that read, “ringing a doorbell isn’t a crime.”
Yarl was 16 when he went out to pick up his younger brothers from a friend’s house on that mid-April evening.
Yarl’s mom had asked him to go to an address in Kansas City’s Nashua neighborhood, a little more than 15 miles north of downtown. But the teen went to the same house number on a “street” instead of a “terrace,” just one block over.
Lester, who lives alone, told police he had gone to bed before hearing his doorbell ring and believed Yarl was trying to break in when the senior citizen opened fire.
The court also heard a 911 call from Lester when the defendant told dispatcher that a Black man came to his door: “He was at my door trying to get in, and I shot him.”
Before Yarl took the stand, three local residents testified they heard the shots and the teen banging on their doors, frantically asking for assistance.
Two of those neighbors testified they told Yarl to sit outside while they called for help. The prosecutor asked those neighbors, rhetorically, if they had thought about shooting Yarl and they said no.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Selina Guevara reported from Kansas City, Halle Lukasiewicz from Chicago and David K. Li from New York City.