Seattle police fatally shot Charleena Lyles, a black 30-year-old woman pregnant with her fifth child, in front of her children on Sunday. They were responding to a burglary call, reportedly made by Lyles. They fired their weapons after seeing Lyles holding a knife.
“The officers need to pay for what they did,” said Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams. “Even if my sister had a knife in her hand, she weighs like nothing, even if she’s soaking wet. There’s no way you could’ve taken a taser and taken her down? There’s no way you could’ve taken a baton and knocked the knife out of her hand?”
Williams told TV station KOMO News that her Lyles suffered from untreated “mental health issues” and was arrested earlier in June for obstruction and harassment because she would not “let go of her baby” in front of officers until Williams arrived. She was holding scissors in her hand, but “she didn’t charge nobody or nothing,”said Williams.
Neighbor Lhora Murray, 42, told the Stranger that police left two of Lyles’s children, a 10-year-old and the toddler with down syndrome, with her. The 10-year-old reportedly said, “They shot my mom.”
The Seattle Police Department has placed the two officers, both white, on administrative leave while investigating the use of deadly force.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is also launching an independent investigation into the tragic incident. “My thoughts are with the many people impacted, including the three children and the responding officers,” he said in a statement.
“Our historic police reforms, from de-escalation training to civilian-monitored force review, are in place to address such crises. This will be fully investigated,” he continued. “The quality and integrity of the investigation will be reviewed by the federal monitoring team supervising our consent decree. We will work collectively with our consent decree partners and the Community Police Commission to ensure transparency throughout this process and offer support where needed.”