Hundreds marched in downtown Seattle Thursday night in wake of the police shooting that killed a pregnant mother.
Charleena Lyles called police Sunday morning, reporting a burglary that included the theft of an X-box. An audio recording indicates two officers spent about three minutes calmly speaking with Lyles, who later armed herself with two kitchen knives. Lyles had been ordered by a Seattle Mental Health Court judge to not possess weapons just weeks before the shooting.
Family members and Seattle activists question why police didn't use non-lethal options when they knew Lyles had been struggling with mental health issues.
Since the shooting, advocacy groups and government leaders – including congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, mayor Ed Murray, and Seattle City Councilwoman Lorena González – have released statements questioning police tactics and system failures for people with mental health issues.
Hundreds of people sharing that sentiment gathered at Lyles’ Sand Point housing complex, where she was shot, on Tuesday night for a vigil.
A Seattle justice group called “Black Freedom Front” organized another rally on Thursday called “BlackLivesMatter – March for Justice.”
Hundreds gathered at Westlake Park early in the evening to listen to speakers, one being Lyles' aunt. The protest hit the streets for a march that's still underway.
Family’s reaction to Lyles’ death
Family members of Charleena Lyles on Tuesday evening outside her apartment in Magnuson Park spoke of her as a sweet, kind person.
A woman named Tiffany, who said she was Lyles' youngest sister, described Charleena as a woman full of life whose kids were her everything.
"There's nothing that she wouldn't have done for her kids. She was a powerful lady. I used to call her almost every single day. I'm going to miss my support."
Family members are heartbroken and dedicated to finding justice. And they believe police could have de-escalated the situation.
James Bible, an attorney representing relatives of Lyles, said that "the officers knew she was vulnerable" when they went to her apartment.
"When we call police for help, we expect protection, we expect safety," Bible said. "It was their responsibility to protect her and they didn't."
KIRO 7 News talked to Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams, the day of the shooting.
"What is she going do to all you police?" Williams asked at the apartment the day of the shooting. "You big ass men? I can take her down, I know you can."
"There's no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies.”
About Lyles' reported mental health decline
Lyles' cousin, Kenny Isabell, pastor of The Way of Holiness Church of God in Seattle, described Lyles as depressed but not violent. He said she "was going through some things in her life" but was working hard on improving it.
At the time of her death, Lyles had an ongoing harassment and obstruction case in Seattle Municipal Court for the June 5 incident with the long metal scissors. In that case, a judge at her bail hearing raised concerns because Lyles did not follow police commands while her 4-year-old was on her lap.
City documents say that Lyles experienced a recent “rapid decline in her mental health.”
After an early-June incident where Lyles told police she wanted to "morph into a wolf," Lyles was ordered by a Seattle Mental Health Court judge to not possess weapons. Read about that case here.
Lyles was prescribed medication, her attorney told a Seattle Mental Health Court judge, but she had not taken it because she was pregnant.
Newest details about the Seattle police shooting
Seattle police released on Thursday new video and the 911 call that Lyles made into police before she was killed in the officer-involved shooting.
The newly released 5-hour video shows Lyles in the hallway, slumping down against the wall, and then walking with a neighbor. Watch the video here.
Lyles made the 911 call at 8:55 a.m. to report a break-in at her apartment."I walked in and noticed some stuff missing out of my house, my door was open," she told the dispatcher in the call. Listen to the audio here.
When police first entered her apartment, responding to her call, the conversation was calm. They asked her about a video game console she reporting stolen.
A transcript and audio released earlier in the week shows there was a scuffle and then 11 police commands to “get back.”
One officer said to use a TASER, a brand of stun gun, but neither officer had one. There were 14 seconds between the first command and the shots that killed Lyles. A use of force review board is expected, as is a separate use of force investigation.
According to the transcript, one of the officers also said "we need help" and they were facing "a woman with two knives."
According to the transcript Lyles also said "Get ready (expletive)."
The initial conversation between the pregnant woman and the two Seattle police officers seemed polite and calm. She let them into her apartment. They asked her about the video game console she reporting stolen.
SPD Detective Patrick Michaud said Tuesday that both officers had undergone crisis intervention training to deal with people showing signs of mental illness or other crises.
Lyles' killing came less than two weeks after authorities say she threatened officers with long metal shears when they responded to a domestic disturbance at her home. Read about that case here.
A court-appointed monitor overseeing use-of-force reforms has found that in responding to roughly 10,000 incidents a year in which people are in behavioral crisis, Seattle officers use force just 2 percent of the time. And in the vast majority of those instances, officers used the lowest level of force.
Cox Media Group