Ralph Yarl's Attorney Shares Health Update On Client With 'Head Of Steel'

The 16-year-old also chatted with President Biden for almost an hour, according to an update shared by attorney Lee Merritt and activist Shaun King.

An attorney for Ralph Yarl, the Black teen shot in the head after mistakingly ringing the wrong Kansas City doorbell, shared a sunny photo of his client Wednesday alongside an encouraging health update.

Yarl’s doctors expect him to make a full yet lengthy recovery, according to the post originally written by activist Shaun King and reposted in full by Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney who took the case.

Yarl, 16, can be seen reclining in sweatpants and a green T-shirt on what appears to be a backyard deck, next to a smiling Merritt.

“He’s home and looks great. Ralph is a WALKING MIRACLE with a head of steel,” wrote King. He noted the teen had suffered a traumatic brain injury that could have been lethal if the bullet hit slightly differently.

Yarl also spoke on the phone with President Joe Biden for “nearly an hour,” King revealed, writing that the president “offered such warm encouragement to Ralph.”

“[Biden] asked Ralph great questions about his musical background and shared stories about his own family playing similar instruments. He asked Ralph about his mother and family and shared heartwarming stories about his own mother and family. They talked about academics, the world, and much more,” King wrote.

“The family expected that call to last for 2-3 minutes but they loved talking to each other so much that it carried on for about an hour,” he said, adding, “It was a surprising and special moment. Ralph was invited to the White House.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke with the teen, who was introduced this week to a Black female therapist assisting the family, King said.

Yarl’s aunt Faith Spoonmore, who created a GoFundMe page for her nephew earlier this week, posted an update saying he could “ambulate and communicate.”

“A true miracle considering what he survived,” Spoonmore wrote. “Each day is different. He has a long road ahead. However, we are very thankful that he is still here with us. I’ve been taking the time to read the emails and comments to Ralph. It warms our hearts to see him smile at all the kind words.”

“Thank you so much for loving Ralph,” she said.

Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old who was shot and wounded by a homeowner after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, spoke with President Joe Biden about his interest in music.
Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old who was shot and wounded by a homeowner after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, spoke with President Joe Biden about his interest in music.
LEE MERRITT via Reuters

Spoonmore previously described Yarl as a “fantastic kid” with a talent for music — he played the bass clarinet among other instruments and hoped his ability would help him land a college scholarship to study chemical engineering.

The gruesome shooting has made international headlines as gun violence continues to plague the U.S., where firearms vastly outnumber residents. Two other instances of young people being shot on sight within days of Yarl’s injury — one in New York state and another in Texas — further underscored the issue.

Police say that an 84-year-old white man, Andrew Daniel Lester, shot Yarl through his glass front door after the teen approached the wrong house just before 10 p.m. on April 13.

Officers did not immediately arrest Lester, who cited in his defense Missouri’s “stand your ground” law, which provides broad protections to people who claim they acted with violence in self-defense.

Prosecutors charged Lester with assault on Monday; he pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Yarl’s mother had asked him to pick up his younger twin brothers from an address on Northeast 115th Street, but he instead went to Northeast 115th Terrace one block over. He was struck by bullets on the left side of his forehead and his right arm, according to a report from the Kansas City Police Department.

Lester told police he was “scared to death” of the Black person he assumed was trying to break into his house. Yarl, however, told police he did not even try pulling on the doorknob. He said he simply rang the doorbell and waited for someone to answer; Lester said he was in bed at the time.

Yarl then ran away and called on neighbors for help before being rushed to a children’s hospital.

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