17-year-old Ralph Yarl spoke out for the first time in a recent ‘GMA’ exclusive interview about being shot in the head after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his 11-year-old twin brothers.
Robin Roberts asked Ralph, “When you go back to April 13, tell me what happened when you go to that address?”
Well, I go into the driveway, I walk up the steps, I rang the doorbell, I see three different cameras, like, one looking at the driveway, one on the porch, as far as I know, I didn’t know their family at all, like, I had never even seen their friends or their parents before so maybe this is their house.
Ralph mistakenly went to N.E. 115th Street instead of N.E. 115th Terrace, which was one block away.
I actually wait a long time. I’m just on the porch… So then I hear the door open.
I see this old man, and I’m assuming, ‘Oh this is this must be, like, their grandpa,’ and then he pulls out his gun.
Yeah, I’m like, ‘Whoa!’ so I like backup.
He points it at me. So I kind of like brace, and I turn my head.
Before that, I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way he’s actually gonna shoot, right?…
That door isn’t even open, he’s gonna shoot through his glass door and glass is going to get everywhere.’
Then it happened, and then I’m on the ground. I fall on the glass, the shattered glass.
And then, before I know it, I’m running away shouting, ‘Help me, help me.’
Ralph went to several houses in the neighborhood before someone helped him.
I was bleeding from my head. I was like, ‘How is this possible?… Like, I’ve been shot in the head.’
Ralph Yarl said he had never seen the man before that shot him, and he only said five words before he shot him.
He only said five words… ‘Don’t come here ever again.’
Ralph’s mom, Cleo, said that Ralph was partially alert when they arrived at the hospital, but it wasn’t a pleasant sight, and it was traumatizing.
Ralph was shot twice. Once in the head and his arm by 84-year-old Andrew Lester.
It took four days for Kansas City police to file first-degree assault charges against Lester.
Protests were held for Ralph prior to Andrew Lester’s arrest.
The shooter remains out on bond after telling investigators he thought Ralph was a burglar, and he was scared to death.
Lester has entered a not-guilty plea.
According to Lester’s attorneys, he’s prohibited by the court from discussing the case, but he is “looking forward to the upcoming preliminary hearing.”
The Yarl family lawyer, Lee Merrit, has called for the case to be investigated as a hate crime.
Unfortunately race is a major factor in who gets justice and who doesn’t.
And in cases where there is a White man and a Black child, I’ve seen over and over again the criminal justice system contort itself out of shape to find a way to justify the shooting.
And that is a concern for me here.
10 weeks after the shooting, Ralph has made a full physical recovery, but he is still suffering from mental and emotional trauma.
There are a lot of things that are going on inside my head that aren’t normal.
I’ve been having headaches, um, trouble with sleep, and sometimes my mind is just foggy.
Like, I can’t concentrate on the things that would be easy for me to do.
Ralph’s mom said that he took the SAT when he was in the 8th grade, and now his brain is slowed.
She also said that physically he looks fine, but there is a lot that has been taken from him.
Ralph said he wants people to know that he’s just a kid and he’s not larger than life.
I’m just a kid. I”m not larger than life because this happened to me.
I’m just gonna keep doing all the stuff that makes me happy and… just living my life the best I can, not let this bother me.
Ralph is a saxophonist, and his love for music helps him deal with the tough times.
He hopes to become a chemical engineer one day.
When Robin Roberts asked Ralph, “What is justice to you in this case?”… He responded:
Justice is just, the rule of the law, regardless, of race, ethnicity, and age he should be convicted for the crimes that he made.
By and past having any personal hatred for him, he should suffer repercussions because that is what our society is made of, trust in each other and reassurance that we can coexist together in harmony.
The dates for the preliminary hearing have been set for August 31st and September 1st.
The judge agreed to seal the case in response to a protective order filed by Lester’s attorney. A move that doesn’t sit well with the Yarl family attorney because he believes transparency is key in this case.
We pray that as Ralph continues to heal that his mental capacities strengthen and that his dream of becoming a chemical engineer is realized.