Seattle mother shot and killed by police after calling 911 about burglary; family says she was pregnant

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jun 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 13:39:23-04

SEATTLE — Seattle police are investigating the fatal shooting by two officers of a woman who family members say was pregnant and struggling with mental health issues.

The officers went to the apartment — where several children were present — after a call Sunday morning about a burglary, police said.

At some point, the woman confronted them with a knife, and both officers shot their weapons, authorities said. The children were not injured, police said.

"The officers immediately performed first aid," but fire medics arrived and determined she had died, the police department said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Relatives told The Seattle Times that woman was several months pregnant and had struggled with mental-health issues for the past year.

Police on Monday released a roughly 4-minute dashcam audio of the officers discussing "a safety caution" and a previous encounter with the woman before they reached her fourth-floor apartment in Seattle's Sand Point neighborhood.

On the audio, the woman can be heard discussing with the officers that there was a break-in. They calmly discuss an X-Box video game console being taken and roughly 15 seconds later, officers could be heard saying "Get back! Get back!" and "We need help" before gunfire erupts. A child's cry can be heard in the background.

Friends and family held a vigil Sunday night for the woman, whom relatives identified as Charleena Lyles, according to media reports. Some questioned why non-lethal options weren't used in the case.

"She's not big at all," Lyles’ brother Domico Jones told PIX11 sister station Q13 Fox. "If worse came to worse, you'd use a Taser instead of a gun for someone that has three kids inside of her house."

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in a statement Sunday called the shooting "a tragedy for all involved."

"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," Murray said.

He added that the investigation will be reviewed by the federal monitoring team supervising the city's consent decree.

Seattle has been under a 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department that resolved allegations of unconstitutional policing. Seattle officials agreed to an independent monitor and federal court oversight of the city's police department after a Justice investigation found Seattle officers routinely used excessive force.

The department said Sunday that though this was a typical burglary report, "two officers were required due to information pertaining to this address that presented an increased risk to officers."