Murder charges filed in killing of 4-year-old Kansas City boy that spurred national crackdown

AG Barr hails filing of charges by Kansas prosecutor

Updated: August 13, 2020 - 6:33pm

A Kansas City prosecutor on Thursday charged a man with second-degree murder in the killing of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, whose fatal shooting in bed while he slept in June shocked a nation and spurred a crackdown on violent crime by the Trump administration.

The Jackson County (Mo.) prosecutor announced that Ryson B. Ellis, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action. Ellis was arrested in Tulsa, Okla., shortly before the charges were announced, officials said.

Charron Powell, LeGend's mother, hailed the arrest, but said she mourned not only for her son but also his murderer and her home city of Kansas City for the relentlessly violent summer it has endured.

"This is a lose situation, for my family, and including his," Powell said, referring to Ellis. "We have to take it a step farther and calm the violence down."

Attorney General William Barr launched Operation Legend, a federal task force crackdown on surging city violence, in honor of the young boy killed in his sleep and met with Powell earlier this summer. He applauded Thursday's arrest, saying federal agents on the task force assisted the investigation that led to the arrest.

"Today's arrest of LeGend Taliferro's suspected murderer marks a significant step forward in his case and illustrates the potential of Operation Legend more broadly," Barr said. "The arrest and state charges resulted from cooperation among Kansas City police officers, the FBI, and U.S. Marshals. This development is a model for joint efforts to solve crimes and reduce violence in other cities. ... 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."