Charleena Lyles: Police officers shoot and kill pregnant black woman after she reports burglary

The mother of four had made an emergency call

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 19 June 2017 20:49
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Two officers were responding to a burglary call made by Charleena Lyles during the fatally shot the 30-year-old mother of four
Two officers were responding to a burglary call made by Charleena Lyles during the fatally shot the 30-year-old mother of four

Seattle police fatally shot a 30-year-old mother of four in her home after they responded to her emergency call about a burglary.

Charleena Lyles was shot after police saw her holding a knife, the Seattle Times reported.

Ms Lyles lived in Brettler Family Place, a complex of apartment homes meant for people transitioning out of homelessness. She had called the police on the morning of 18 June to report the crime.

Seattle Police issued a statement in which they said Ms Lyles was "armed with a knife" and "confronted" two police officers who had responded to the call.

Recently released audio of the incident indicates that Ms Lyles was reporting a stolen Xbox video game unit.

Detective Mark Jamieson said that police were familiar with Ms Lyles and said her home had a "hazard information" warning for any officers responding to calls there.

Two officers were sent to the scene instead of one because it “presented an increased risk to officers".

The officers, unidentified at this point, performed first aid on the victim but Ms Lyles was declared dead by paramedics at the scene.

It is unclear at this time if the three children present witnessed the shooting, but they are unharmed and being cared for by other family members.

Family members say the fact that Ms Lyles' is black played a role in her death.

Ms Lyles was arrested on 5 June harassment, obstruction of a public official, and harassment of a law enforcement officer, according to the newspaper.

Ms Lyles' sister Monika Williams said that her sister was released on the recommendation that she seek mental health counselling, but it is unclear if that was the case or if she was receiving any such care. She said that Ms Lyles had "mental health issues" for but did not provide any further detail.

“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?,” said Ms Williams to the newspaper, questioning why police did not subdue her sister in a non-fatal manner. She also said her sister was pregnant.

A police statement released with the audio stated that the officers indeed had “less lethal force options” on their person at the time. The audio indicates the officers told Ms Lyles to "get back" prior to shooting her.

A Department of Justice investigation in 2012 found that the Seattle Police department regularly used excessive force on the job however, a federal monitoring report in April 2017 showed that the department use of force incidents by officers had decreased since the investigation, Seattle Times reported.

The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Recently, a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer was acquitted of all charges after shooting and killing Philando Castile in July 2016. Mr Castile's murder and the aftermath of the incident were broadcast live on Facebook by his girlfriend, whose four-year-old daughter was in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

A candlelight vigil was held with approximately a hundred people near Ms Lyles' home the night of the shooting.

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