Relatives of a 30-year-old Black Seattle woman who was recently killed by police claim that she suffered from mental health issues and that her death could have been avoided. The woman, who had called authorities for help, left behind three children, one of whom had Down’s Syndrome.
According to The Seattle Times, on Sunday morning the local police responded to a 911 call that Charleena Lyles made claiming that someone was trying to break into her home. During their visit, detectives claimed Lyles pulled out a knife, which prompted officers to fatally her.
It’s unknown if any de-escalation techniques were used to calm her down before shooting her.
At the scene, emotional family members told the media that the police didn’t have to shoot her, noting her small frame. They also stressed that race played a factor in her death given that the officers involved were both white.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down,” said Monika Williams, Lyles’ sister. “There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies. The Seattle police shot the wrong one today.”
Williams also revealed that Lyles was pregnant.
Lyles brother, Domico Jones, shared that his sister suffered from mental health issues for the past year and the family had tried to help her. He also stated that his sister worried her children would be taken away from her.
The Seattle Police Department has since tried to explain their side of the story by painting the picture that Lyles had a history of questionable and problematic encounters with the police. According to SPD, this is why they sent two officers to respond to the call, the Seattle Times noted.
“Officers were confronted by a 30-year-old woman armed with a knife,” the department wrote on its web blotter. “Both officers fired their duty weapons, striking the woman.
“There were several children inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, but they were not injured. They are being cared for by other family members at this time,” a spokesperson told the outlet.
Family members said that Lyles leaves behind three children: Two boys and a girl, ages 11, 4 and 1.
Lyles death comes a few days after a Minnesota jury refused to convict a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
Twitter had a lot to say about this young mother’s tragic death:
This is a developing story and we will provide updates as they become available.