The recent shooting of African-American Charleena Lyles by Seattle police on Sunday triggered a huge outcry among citizens with many branding the incident as an act of racism. Moreover, the mentally-ill victim's family also expressed concern her race played a role in the fatal shooting. They also questioned the officers' decision not to use a Taser gun or other non-lethal options, the Seattle Times reported Monday.
The family claimed the use of guns was "unnecessary" and that the police could have easily overpowered Lyles and stopped her, the report added.
30-year-old Charleena Lyles, who was pregnant, was shot in front of her children at her home near Magnuson Park, Seattle, after she called the police officers to her apartment to report a burglary. However, when the officers arrived at the scene, Lyles reportedly confronted them with a knife, the Washington Post reported. The incident took place at around 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EDT) Sunday.
The incident escalated further, resulting in the police officers fatally shooting Lyles. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) Monday released an audio recording of the final moments before Lyles was shot.
The audio recording reveals the officers spent about two minutes speaking with Lyles before the situation turned, resulting in Lyles being shot.
“Get back! Get back,” the officers were heard saying in the video. Lyles was then heard saying, “Do it! Do it,” before an officer called up someone and asked for help. “We need help!” he was heard saying. Seconds later, five gunshots were heard before officers shouted, “Get back! Get back” again.
Officers also said they immediately performed first aid on Lyles before the medics arrived. However, she was pronounced dead soon after.
The SPD’s Force Investigation Team (FIT) along with the police department’s Office of Professional Accountability is probing the incident to look closely at what the officers could have possibly done to calm the situation, KUOW News and Information reported. The report also stated the probe teams will investigate whether the officers had enough time or the physical space to de-escalate the matter, and also whether the presence of Lyles’ children in the house influenced their decision to use their guns.
The officers who shot Lyles are currently on a paid administrative leave which is a standard protocol in a shooting.
Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams said her sister suffered from mental problems and was recently released from prison after being detained for getting in the way of a public official and two counts of harassment.
Kenny Isabell, Lyles’s cousin said she was depressed but not violent. “Now this. It’s unfortunate. It’s disturbing,” Isabell who is also a pastor of The Way of Holiness Church of God in Seattle said.
“They didn’t only take one life – they took two lives. And they destroyed the four lives of her children,” Wanda Cockerhern, Lyles’ cousin told the Guardian on Monday.
“Do our lives really matter to them? What do you want from us? We try to comply and this is still happening. You’re killing our young men and now a young woman has died,” he said.