Charleena Lyles, 30yo woman who was fatally shot by SPD today. Photo shared with permission from family pic.twitter.com/zHr3DV8mqM
– Steven Hsieh (@stevenjhsieh) June 18, 2017
On Sunday, June 18, Seattle police officers shot and killed a 30-year-old black woman known to struggle with mental health issues after she called them for help. Charleena Lyles was home with her three children when she called 911 to report a possible burglary in her apartment, and now, her friends and family are left trying to understand how this led to her untimely death.
According to the Seattle Times, two white, armed officers showed up at the apartment. Lyles was reportedly carrying a knife when they arrived. Her family members say not only was she several months pregnant, but insist she was too “tiny” to be an actual threat to the police officers. “Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Monika Williams, Lyles’s sister, asked. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
Audio of the incident has been released. In it, screaming and what sounds like jostling can be heard, with officers repeatedly saying “Hey, get back.” Police say a previous interaction with Lyles flagged a “hazard response” to her call; her sister said during that previous call, she had armed herself with scissors to protect against a boyfriend.
Seattle Police Det. Mark Jamieson says a woman was shot multiple times by 2 responding officers to burglary call, kids in apartment at time pic.twitter.com/yUErx5WI6N
– Bettina Hansen (@bettinahansen) June 18, 2017
Lyles’s family believes that race played a major role in her fatal shooting. The Seattle Times also reports that the Seattle Police Department “has been under a federal consent decree since 2012 after a Department of Justice investigation found its officers routinely engaged in excessive use of force, most often against people with mental or substance abuse problems.”
While police violence against black men has been prominent in the news, many are pointing to this situation to show how black women are impacted, as well.
Her name is #CharleenaLyles and she wasn’t a suspect. She was a victim who called you for help. You shot her in front of her children. https://t.co/4iC3QqO5Rz
– Race Woman 🍑 (@AFarray) June 19, 2017
Heart breaking, again. Black disabled women matter. #CharleenaLyles #sayhername #BlackLivesMatter #CripTheVote
– Natalie Eve Garrett (@nevegarrett) June 19, 2017
This is Charleena Lyles. She was executed in front of her children by race soldiers in Seattle. She’s the latest ethnic cleansing victim pic.twitter.com/qhkyiAwsQi
– Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) June 18, 2017
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released a statement explaining that this is a “tragedy for all involved.” He said there will be a thorough investigation following Lyles’s death.