Legend Taliferror was fatally shot while sleeping on the floor of a Kansas City, Mo., apartment in late June. The Justice Department then named a federal operation to stamp out violent crime after the 4-year-old boy. Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Department
Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A prosecutor in Missouri announced murder charges Thursday against a 22-year-old Kanas City man for fatally shooting 4-year-old Legend Taliferro whose death prompted the Justice Department to launch an operation against violent crime in his name.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced in a statement that Ryson Ellis has been charged with murder in the second degree, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action for killing Taliferro, who was struck by a bullet on the morning of June 29 while asleep at home.
In early July, Attorney General William Barr announced Operation Legend, named after Taliffero, to send federal troops into cities to fight a sudden surge in violent crime.
Starting in KansasCity, the initiative has since expanded to at least eight cities, most recently to Memphis and St. Louis late last week.
Barr in a statement Thursday said that the arrest of Ellis is an example of Operation Legend's potential as it was the result of cooperation among Kansas City police officers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals and can be a model to solve crimes and reduce violence.
"Although Legend's suspected murderer has been arrested, Operation Legend will go on," Barr said. "Inspired by this success, federal law enforcement will continue working tirelessly to support state and local partners in our shared mission to keep the American people safe and enforce the rule of law."
According to the complaint, Taliferro was killed in late June when Ellis fired a gun from a grassy area behind the building. The bullets were fired through a privacy fence and a sliding glass into the apartment, striking Taliferro who was asleep on the floor.
A woman who was also asleep at the residence at the time of the shooting later told police she has a son with Ellis and that he assaulted her a few days before the shooting, the complaint states.
"We are all pleased that we're now a step closer to finding justice for the tragic murder of Legend Taliferror," U.S. attorney Tim Garrison of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri said in a statement. "This case underscores the effectiveness of state, local and federal law enforcement working together to reduce violence crim in Kansas city."