Seattle police: No choice but lethal force in fatal shooting

"Racism has got to go".

Friends and family of Charleena Lyles say she was much more than the police's account of a 30-year-old woman who confronted two officers with kitchen knives and was shot dead last weekend inside her Seattle apartment. Her family members claimed deadly force was used when less lethal methods were available, and believe race was a factor in the shooting.

"This is a awful tragedy on every front", Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole told KING-TV in Seattle.

"Our historic police reforms, from de-escalation training to civilian-monitored force review, are in place to address such crises. I grew up in a family of police officers and this is an embarrassment to the profession my grandfather and my dad chose".

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"The officers immediately performed first aid", but fire medics arrived and determined she had died, the police department said in a statement Sunday afternoon. The police have been releasing video and audio files online saying it was "in the interest of continued transparency and in response to ongoing requests".

The officers reported that Lyles, who may have been mentally ill, was holding a knife, though many questions remain.

Lyles, whom relatives called "Leena", grew up in Seattle and was largely raising two boys and two girls on her own - including a 4-year girl with Down syndrome - but she had a supportive network of siblings, cousins, aunts and others, Williams said.

'And at that point, fearing for what was about to happen, what she would do to me, um, being stuck in that spot, I fired my handgun, ' he told investigators, noting he remembered hearing shots coming from Anderson's location.

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Anderson said the conversation with Lyles began normally, involving what was missing in the apartment, before Lyles drew the knife as her "face changed completely". But she also anxious they would be taken from her because an abusive ex-boyfriend, the father of the youngest children, was causing problems for her.

The officers were responding to a burglary report called in by Lyles and knew she had a history of mental health issues, and that she had menaced two officers with metal shears in her apartment earlier in the month. She was released from jail on conditions, and her case was referred to mental-health court.

The encounter between the officers and Lyles started calmly as heard in an audio recording.

She had called police that morning to report a break-in.

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On Thursday, police released surveillance video from the hallway outside the apartment, which shows that no one other than Lyles left or entered her apartment in the hours before she was shot.

  • Nancy Warren