Pregnant Mother Shot Dead by Cops Whom She Called for Help – NBCNews.com
The officers were dispatched to the woman’s apartment complex in Northeast Seattle shortly before 10 a.m PT Sunday (1 p.m. ET) after she reported a break-in at her home, officials said in a statement.
The woman was identified as Charleena Lyles, 30, by family members, according to NBC Seattle affiliate KING.
When police arrived at the apartment, where her three young children were present, the woman began talking about the burglary calmly but then allegedly suddenly came at officers with a knife yelling “you ready? Motherf—s,” according to an audio recording of the incident released by the Seattle Police Department.
“Get back! Get back!” the officers responded before opening fire on Lyles, while at least one child can be heard crying in the background.
“The officers immediately performed first aid while the Seattle Fire Department responded, but the fire department declared the woman deceased once they arrived,” according to a police statement. “There were several children inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, but they were not injured.”
Family members say Lyles was three months pregnant, and long struggled with mental illness, according to the Seattle Times.
She was “tiny” and had “mental health problems,” Lyles’ sister Monika Williams told the Seattle Times.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down,” she told the newspaper, noting that Lyles’ children witnessed her shooting.
In the audio recording, the officers are heard talking about Lyles as someone who has said “weird statements” and has a “safety caution.”
Williams said she believes race was a factor in the officer’s decision. Lyles was black and the two officers were white, according to authorities.
Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson said Lyles had a recent “encounter” with police, who have been called to her apartment several times before — a history that warranted the dispatch of two officers rather than one.
“Although this was a typical burglary report, two officers were required due to information pertaining to this address that presented an increased risk to officers,” Jamieson said in a statement.
One of the officers was an 11-year veteran while the other was “newer” he said.
Both have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, he said.
The apartment complex where Lyles was living with her children is for “formerly homeless individuals and families” and operated by Solid Ground, a non-profit which combats poverty in the Seattle area, said Mike Buchman, a spokesman for the organization.