KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ralph Yarl — a Black teenager who was shot in the head and arm after mistakenly ringing the wrong doorbell — walked at a brain injury awareness event in his first major public appearance since the shooting.
The 17-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was shot while trying to pick up his younger brothers in April, the Kansas City Star reported.
Yarl walked with family, friends and other brain injury survivors Monday at Going the Distance for Brain Injury, a yearly Memorial Day race at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It takes a community. It takes a family. It takes a support group, all of that,” Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, said ahead of the race, adding: “Let’s raise more awareness to stop the things that cause brain injuries and should not be causing them, especially gun violence.”
As many as 1,000 people raced through the park, including many in neon green T-shirts who registered to be part of “Team Ralph,” said Robin Abramowitz, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City.
“It’s important for Ralph to see that he is not alone,” Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said. She added that Yarl has debilitating migraines and issues with balance. He is also struggling with his emotions, mood changes and the trauma of the shooting.
Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old white man, is accused of shooting Yarl. The teen had confused Lester’s address with a home about a block away where he was supposed to pick up his siblings.
The shooting drew worldwide attention and prompted rallies and protests in the Kansas City area, with critics saying Lester was given preferential treatment when police released him just two hours after he was arrested.