Seattle police officers shot and killed a pregnant mother of four on Sunday. Charleena Lyles, 30, had called the police to report a burglary before officers arrived, allegedly found her brandishing a knife, and shot her in the same apartment as her children.
The Washington Post reports that Lyles was living in an apartment building for people transitioning out of homelessness. Due to a past incident with Lyles, two officers responded to a call that would normally only require one.
Audio of the shooting has since been released and published by The Seattle Times, in which you can hear officers approaching the door and yelling for someone to “Get back!” before gunshots start.
Lyles’ family, and many whom have been made aware of the incident, are wondering why the officers chose to use deadly force instead of diffusing the situation through other, less fatal means. Her sister, Monika Williams, described her as “tiny” and wondered how she could’ve intimidated the officers enough for them both to fire.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Williams, told The Seattle Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
Officers arrived at the apartment around 10 a.m. on Sunday and walked to the fourth floor apartment. Then, “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife,” according to Detective Mark Jamieson. The officers reportedly tried to administer CPR, but Lyles was soon declared dead by fire department officials.
There’s still no word on whether or not Lyles’ four children witnessed the shooting. They were taken by neighbors and authorities following the incident.
A neighbor, Lhora Murray, told the Stranger that a child of Lyles’ told her, “They shot my mom.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray promised there would be a full investigation into the shooting and called it ” a tragedy for all involved.” Meanwhile, community members held a vigil outside of the apartment for Lyle, with lit candles and pictures of her and her children.
Lyle’s death is yet another example of how police officers are in desperate need of more training in diffusing situations, especially when mental illness is expected to play a role. Four children are now without a mother and one will never have the opportunity to see the world.