Two Seattle police officers on Sunday shot dead a pregnant mom with mental health issues after she reported a burglary attempt and showed a knife to cops, according to authorities and reports.
Family members said they believed race played a role in the death of 30-year-old Charleena Lyles, who was African-American, the Seattle Times reported.
The cop duo responded to an attempted burglary report at Lyles’ apartment complex just before 10 a.m. Sunday, Seattle Police Det. Mark Jamieson told reporters.
A one-officer response would have been the norm, but “hazard information” linked to a previous police encounter with Lyles — she’d been arrested June 5 for obstruction of a public official and harassment, the Times reported — prompted the doubled-up presence, Jamieson said.
The officers went up to Lyles’ fourth-floor apartment, the detective said, where “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife.”
“Both officers had fired their service weapons, striking the individual. Unfortunately, it is a fatality,” Jamieson said. “Officers immediately performed first aid until the fire department arrived, but the fire department declared her deceased at the scene.”
Lyles’ family members are caring for the children present in the apartment, Jamieson added. The three kids, who weren’t injured in the shooting, included a four-year-old girl with Down syndrome, Lyles’ brother Domico Jones told the paper.
The small-framed, several-months-pregnant woman had endured mental health issues over the last year, Jones said.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” her sister, Monika Williams, asked, according to the Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
The Seattle Police Department officers were both white, according to authorities. One boasted 11 years on the force, while the other was “newer to the department,” North Precinct Capt. Sean O’Donnell told the paper.
The department entered into a federal consent decree after a 2011 Justice Department probe found officers wielded force “in an unconstitutional manner.” But the DOJ in April touted “initial compliance,” with its court-ordered monitor marking a “major milestone” in reforming use of force.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray vowed a full investigation into the fatal shooting.
“Today’s incident is a tragedy for all involved. My thoughts are with the many people impacted, including 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.”
The probe’s “quality and integrity” will be reviewed by the monitoring team supervising the consent decree, he added.
“There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies,” Williams told reporters, according to the Seattle Times. “The Seattle police shot the wrong one today.”