Yesterday, a 30-year-old woman was fatally shot by Seattle police. Her name was Charleena Lyles. The horrific thing is, she had called the police for help.
And they ended up killing her, in front of her children.
Early Sunday morning, Lyles called the police to report an attempted burglary at her Magnuson Park apartment, according to Seattle Times. According to the police officers, she had a knife.
Yet the officers didn’t have to shoot to kill–and that’s a problem that can’t be reversed, not for Lyles, not for her daughters, not for her family or friends. The other part of the problem is systematic racism–Lyles was black, and the officers (who were confirmed as white) clearly viewed her as a threat, not someone who called for help, someone who could be subdued in another way.
There is training available out there on de-escalation tactics. In fact, on social media, many pointed out that a white man wielding a knife in public was subdued by Seattle cops after several hours and a street blockade—the very same weekend. Why were these tactics not applied in Lyles’ case?
According to her family members, Lyles was pregnant and had been struggling with mental-health issues for the past year. The Seattle Times stated, “she was concerned authorities would take her children, one of whom they said has Down syndrome.” Her sister, Monika Williams, asked “Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
Similar to the Philando Castille case, there were children present– Lyles’ other children, two boys and a girl, ages 11, 4 and 1. The Seattle Times linked to a post on Seattle.gov (which seems to have been taken down) stating:
“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.”
Because of this terrible incident, 50 people gathered in support of the Lyles’ family at their apartment complex–among those was Andrè Taylor, whose brother, Che Taylor, was fatally shot last year by police in Seattle. Protests are planned nationwide and a GoFundMe has been set up for Lyles family.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Seattle Police Department have been under a federal consent decree since 2012. According to the Seattle Times, this comes after an investigation that found its officers “routinely engaged in excessive use of force, most often against people with mental or substance abuse problems. Federal investigators also found evidence of biased policing.”
One Seattle mom put the whole thing in context:
— Beth Caldwell (@CultPerfectMoms) June 19, 2017
Our hearts are broken. Black Lives Matter.