Charleena Lyles called 911 on June 18 about an attempted burglary at her Seattle apartment, but when police officers arrived they shot the pregnant mom dead because she reportedly had a knife (video below).
According to the City of Seattle's police blotter, the two officers who responded to the 911 call "were confronted by a 30-year-old woman armed with a knife," and fired their guns at her. The blotter notes that the cops performed first aid until the Seattle Fire Department arrived and pronounced her dead.
KOMO, a local news station, notes that it's not clear exactly why the police shot Lyles.
Dozens of residents held a vigil that night for the slain mom, notes The Seattle Times.
According to family members, Lyles has had mental health issues, was several months pregnant and was worried that authorities would take her three kids, one of whom has Down syndrome.
Family members say that race played a factor in Lyles' death. She was African-American, while the two officers who responded are white.
The police department released some heavily-edited audio from the officers' dash cam video system on June 19 that showed Lyles and the police speaking calmly during most of the encounter until an officer shouted, "Get back! Get back!" and shots were fired.
Lyles' sister, Monika Williams, questioned the officers' use of force: "Why couldn’t they have tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down."
According to Police Detective Mark Jamieson, police were told of "hazard information" regarding a previous encounter with Lyles, which was why two officers responded.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement on June 18 that the incident was "a tragedy for all involved," which included the cops who shot Lyles: "My thoughts are with the many people impacted, including three children and the responding officers."
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Murray said the Seattle Police Force Investigation Team and the Office of Professional Accountability will review the shooting, as will the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigation placed the Seattle police under a federal consent decree in 2012 after finding that Seattle cops had a history of biased policing and excessive use of force, usually on people with substance abuse or mental problems.
Williams said Lyles had "mental health problems," and that her late sister was arrested earlier in June after arming herself with a pair of scissors as protection against her boyfriend.
According to King County Jail records, Lyles was charged on June 5 for obstruction of a public official and two counts of harassment, but was released conditionally on June 14.
Williams said that Lyles was supposed to get mental health counseling as one of the conditions for the June 14 jail release.
"There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies," Williams told journalists. "The Seattle police shot the wrong one today."
Lyles' brother, Domico Jones, told KOMO: "They came here multiple times, so I know that they had to have known anything that was wrong with her. I assume they knew. I just don't know why they would come in here with force, trying to shoot her."
Lyles' cousin, Wanda Cockerhern, said: "Each time she called [the police], it cost her something. This time it cost her her life," reports The Seattle Times.
KOMO News Report
Police Audio Of Shooting