“The investigation found that SPD officers escalate situations, and use unnecessary or excessive force, when arresting individuals for minor offenses. This trend is pronounced in encounters with persons with mental illnesses or those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is problematic because SPD estimates that 70 percent of use of force encounters involve these populations,” according to the
But a federal monitor overseeing the court-ordered reforms found the department made significant strides in training and conduct since the consent decree five years ago, according to a
report released in April.
“Overall use of force has gone down even as officer injuries have not gone up and crime, by most measures, has not increased. At the same time, the force that SPD officers do use is, by and large, reasonable, necessary, proportional, and consistent with the Department’s use of force policy, “ the report said.
But community activists say they are not convinced.
“What police are touting as improvements, we rebuke,” said Gerald Hankerson, president of the NAACP of Seattle-King County. “If you ask the black community, things are just as bad today as they were before the consent decree so what it the point of even having one,” he said.
“How is it possible that a woman who called the police for help ended up dead?” he said.
Others added that the police department still has a long way to go.
“It is clear that the ‘historic reforms’ within the Seattle police department, a department with a long record of racially discriminatory violence, have fallen far short of what was needed to keep Lyles and her family safe, ” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, a Seattle resident and the executive director of the nonprofit group MomsRising, in a statement.
Several community members and family came together at a vigil honoring Lyles on Sunday night. Loved ones brought photos and flowers in her memory.
Williams set up a
GoFundMe page, which has already garnered over $30,000 as of Monday afternoon, to raise money for Lyles’ children who are now left without a mother.
“Please help us come together to support her children and family during this tragedy,” she said on the page with includes the hashtags #SAYHERNAME and #LEENABOOMATTERS.