Police Accountability

Black Mother Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting

Social justice activists around the world responded to Charleena Lyles's death.

By Hayat Norimine June 19, 2017

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Social justice advocates across the country responded to the death of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old mother who was killed in Magnuson Park by officers on Sunday, with her three children in the room, after she called the police to report a burglary.

The Seattle Police Department on Monday morning released an audio file of Sunday's officer-involved fatal shooting. Lyles, who was killed at her apartment in the 6800 block of 62nd Avenue Northeast, had a history of mental health problems and was pregnant with a fifth child, according to family members.

According to SPD, she was armed with a knife. Typically only one officer is dispatched to property crime calls, SPD said, but two officers were dispatched to this call "because of a recent officer safety caution associated with the caller." Officers heard in the audio file (embedded below) seemed familiar with Lyles's mental health problems. Police were also equipped with "less lethal force options," according to SPD.

A GoFundMe account for Lyles has already raised more than $15,000 as of Monday morning, and the family held a well-attended vigil for Lyles on Sunday. Officers asked questions about the burglary, and, in the audio, the situation seemed to have escalated just about 20 seconds before multiple shots were fired. Officers were shouting, "Get back," and called for help just a few seconds before firing. Mayor Ed Murray said the city will work collectively with consent decree partners and the Community Police Commission to "offer support where needed." 

"Today's incident is a tragedy for all involved. My thoughts are with the many people impacted, including three children and the responding officers," Murray said in a released statement Sunday. "Our historic police reforms, from deescalation training to civilian-monitored force review, are in place to address such crises. This will be fully investigated." 

Here's the audio of the incident, released by SPD and uploaded on SoundCloud by The Seattle Times. 

Updated June 19, 2017, at 12:05pm: This post includes more details on the SPD response.

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