Guilty plea in boy’s death that sparked federal task force

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Friday in the killing of a 4-year-old Kansas City boy whose death led to a federal operation meant to reduce violent crime in 2020.

Ryson Ellis, 24, of Kansas City, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.

Legend Taliferro was sleeping on the floor of his father’s apartment when he was hit by a bullet fired from outside on June 29, 2020, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said.

A sister of Legend’s father, who was in the apartment when the boy was shot, had a child with Ellis. She alleged he had assaulted her a few days before the shooting and some of her brothers, including Legend’s father, had an altercation with Ellis, according to court records.

The month after the killing, the Donald Trump administration instituted a federal task force meant to curb violent crime and named it Operation Legend in honor of the Kansas City boy.

Under the program, federal law enforcement officers were sent to Kansas City and other U.S. cities to help local law enforcement officers investigate violent crimes. The more than 200 federal officers left Kansas City in September 2020.

After Friday’s hearing, Legend’s mother, Charron Powell, told the media that she believed the federal operation honored her son.

“Lots of crimes were solved,” she said. “But we still have a long way to go.”

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