Police in Seattle shot and killed a 30-year-old woman who family members said was pregnant on Sunday after she called 911 about a possible burglary — and now an investigation is underway into the officers’ use of force.
The woman, who was identified by family members in the Seattle Times as Charleena Lyle, had a knife and interacted with the two officers before she was shot, according to the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
Family members said that Lyle had suffered from some mental health problems in the last year and that she was several months pregnant, which BuzzFeed News couldn’t immediately confirm. Family members also said they believe race was a factor — Lyle is black, and the two police officers that shot her were white.
In a video posted by the Seattle Times, a woman who identified herself as Lyle’s sister can be seen distraught, screaming into the camera, telling the reporters that deadly force was not needed in the situation.
“She’s this fucking tall,” Monika Williams said, placing her hand below her head. “There’s no reason for her to be shot, in front of her babies!” Williams said, adding later that the officers could have tased Lyle instead.
SPD have confirmed that several children, two boys and one girl, aged 11, 4, and 1, were in the apartment at the time of the shooting, and have been given to family members.
Audio taken from the officer’s dashcam and was released by the SPD on Monday morning because the department, in a statement, said it believes “transparency throughout the investigation of deadly force incidents is essential to maintaining public trust.”
In the audio, officers can be heard talking about responding to the burglary call in tandem, because of a “hazard information” in the system regarding Lyle, SOD detective Mark Jamieson said.
“While property crimes reports typically require only one officer to be dispatched, two officers were dispatched to this particular call for service because of a recent officer safety caution associated with the caller,” a SPD statement said to explain why the extra officer was warranted.
In the choppy audio, the unidentified officers discussed previous visits to Lyle’s residence before greeting Lyle and asking to come into the apartment.
Lyle and the officers can be heard talking about the alleged burglary.
“This bag that I had open with my clothes and…,” Lyle can be heard saying before the audio becomes silent and indiscernible at times.
Suddenly, one of the officers can be heard saying, “Step back, step back!” The crying of a baby or child can be heard.
A woman’s voice, presumably that of Lyle’s, can be heard saying “You ready? Mother fucker.”
“We need help” and “Get back! Get back!,” the officers can be heard saying before the loud sounds of multiple gunshots occur, and the audio abruptly stops.
Settle’s Mayor Ed Murray said the incident was a “tragedy for all involved and will be fully investigated.”
Around 50 people reportedly held a vigil outside the apartment complex where Lyles was shot on Sunday evening, with photos of Lyle, flowers and candles.
The shooting is being reviewed by the Seattle Police Department’s Force Investigation Team and the Office of Professional Accountability.
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
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