Updated Monday, June 19, 2017, 12:47 p.m. EDT: Seattle police have released audio of the police shooting that ended with Charleena Lyles dead in front of her children. The audio, linked to dashboard cameras in the two patrol cars responding to the initial call, is redacted in certain areas, according to the Seattle Times.
The officers can be heard discussing Lyles’ previous calls to police and her mental-health issues. One officer says that Lyles began “talking all crazy about how the officers weren’t gonna leave,” while another asks if she had a “mental precaution on her.” The officer responds that she has an officer-safety precaution on file.
The recording reveals that officers were aware of Lyles’ mental-health issues and the fact that children might be in the home before they opened fire in the apartment. One officer asks, “Wait, is this the one with, like, the three kids?”
“Yeah,” the other officer responds. “Yeah, so this gal is the one who was making all the [inaudible] statements about how her and her daughter were gonna turn into wolves.”
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The woman, presumably Lyles, allows officers to enter, and she explains the break-in to the cops. The children can be heard in the background as she answers questions. The conversation seems civil as she lists the items missing, and then the officers yell “Get back!” approximately 11 seconds before gunshots are heard.
According to the Seattle Times, one of the officers mentioned scissors in an unreleased portion of the audio.
Two white Seattle law-enforcement officers opened fire on a pregnant, black mother of four Sunday morning, killing the 30-year-old in front of her children after she called police to report a burglary.
Charleena Lyles was living in transitional housing for homeless families in Seattle, according to the Seattle Patch, when she dialed 911 to report an attempted burglary. In a statement, Police Detective Mark Lyles wrote, “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.”
KIRO7 News reports that the police officers knew Lyles, so they sent two police officers because they were “concerned for their safety”—which is understandable, considering the threat of the undersized, petite woman whom family members called “tiny” and said “weighs, like, nothing soaking wet.”
However, police officers said that when they arrived at the fourth-floor apartment, Lyles confronted them with a knife, causing them to open fire on her, even though there were several children in the apartment with her.
The police have issued few details, but using The Root’s proprietary algorithm for police shootings of black people, we can predict exactly what will happen next:
- Seattle police officers will smear the victim with menacing photographs and release her criminal history.
- The officers will be placed on paid leave, meaning that taxpayers will continue to give them full pay even though they are not working (referred to by many, including some dictionaries, as “vacation”).
- The officers will meet with police-union officials and create a story that revolves around how they “feared for their life.”
- There will be a march, a community vigil and a hashtag.
- The police who shot her will never serve a day in jail.
Family members say that the victim was receiving counseling for mental-health issues. Lyles was also the subject of a 2008 news story about how she had entered a program for at-risk youths, using it to get off welfare and get a full-time job.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has promised a full investigation, and Lyles’ family is demanding answers to questions such as:
- Is it standard procedure to open fire in a home filled with children?
- What was the relationship between Lyles and police that made police think two cops needed to be sent to her home?
- How is a cop surprised that a woman reporting a burglary, at home alone with her children, would answer the door with a weapon or some form of protection?
- Why did two officers feel that pepper spray, a baton or even a Taser wouldn’t be enough to subdue a 30-year-old pregnant mother of four?
The Seattle Police Department has remained mum, but again, our algorithm has already deduced the answer to all of these questions:
Because they can.
The two officers—an 11-year veteran and a “newer” officer—have been placed on paid leave. The Seattle Times, the Seattle Patch and KIRO7 News have all reported on Lyles’ criminal record.