1 year after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro’s death, Kansas City homicides reduced

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — His death sparked a national movement to rid city streets of violent criminals, and it all started in Kansas City one year ago today.

On June 29, 2020, a stray bullet flew into an apartment building near East 63rd Street and The Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri. It struck and killed four-year-old LeGend Taliferro as he slept in his bed. 

The child’s death was the 95th homicide of Kansas City’s deadliest year. It prompted federal authorities to send agents to Kansas City, who then teamed up with local police to clean the streets of violent criminals.

Prosecutors later charged 22-year-old Ryson Ellis with second-degree murder for his death. They said he was mad at LeGend’s family and shot into the apartment where they lived. LeGend was not the target but ended up getting hit.

Ellis’s trial is set to begin in January.

LeGend’s tragic death sparked outrage nationwide. The Justice Department acted quickly and sent 185 federal agents to Kansas City. They called it Operation LeGend, and the program extended into eight other cities including Chicago and Milwaukee.

Police hailed it as a success in reducing violence in their cities. But when President Donald Trump left the White House, the program ended. In the end, the Justice Department says Operation LeGend netted more than 6,000 arrests and the seizure of 2,600 firearms.

In the six weeks after Operation LeGend began, homicides in Kansas City dropped by 15%. Aggravated assaults were down 49%, non-fatal shootings dropped by 25% and strong-arm robberies went down 24%. There was an overall drop in violent crime by 30%.

The number of homicides in Kansas City in 2021 are down by 21 so far this year compared to last. Whether it’s due to Operation LeGend or not, this young boy’s legacy lives on in the lives saved due to all the arrests made by federal and local police following his death.

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