The family of a Black teenager shot after he rang the wrong doorbell last week, apparently mistaking the residence for one a block over, has hired a pair of nationally prominent civil rights lawyers.
Lee Merritt and Ben Crump announced Sunday that they were taking the case and promptly criticized authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, for releasing the shooter, who they said is a white man.
The 16-year-old, whose name was not released by authorities, was said to be stable at a hospital after he was shot just before 10 p.m. Thursday, according to police and the lawyers.
“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect,” Merritt and Crump said in a joint statement.
Kansas City police said the child mistook a residence in the 1100 block of Northeast 115th Street for the location of his siblings, who were at a home in the 1100 block of Northeast 115th Terrace, according to NBC affiliate KSHB of Kansas City.
Demonstrators targeted the location Sunday as word of the shooting started to reach a national audience through social media.
Journalist and justice reform advocate Shaun King said on Instagram that he has taken up the victim’s cause.
“This is NOT a stand your ground case,” King said of the genre of law that allows a self-defense argument when shooters are defending lives and property.
Police Chief Stacey Graves explained why Sunday the shooter was released and vowed to investigate thoroughly.
The resident, whose name has not been released, was taken into custody and held for 24 hours, the maximum for a suspect in a felony until charges are filed.
A firearm was taken as evidence, Graves said.
She said that a vast majority of felony suspects are released after 24 hours but that many are re-arrested once enough evidence is gathered to trigger charges.
In this case, Graves said, detectives, working “as expeditiously and as thoroughly as we can,” will work to build a solid foundation for prosecution.
“As soon as the case is complete, it will be presented to the Clay County prosecutor for their review,” she said.
She also said she has been in touch with the teen’s family and is listening to the concerns of the Black community.