30-year-old, Charleena Lyles, was shot and killed by two Seattle police officers Sunday morning. The officers allege that they shot her because she was coming at at them with a knife. Charleena was shot in her apartment in front of 3 children. Her relatives say she was pregnant.
According to police spokesman, Detective Mark Jamieson, Charleena had called police to report a burglary Sunday morning. Police say they dispatched two officers to the apartment because they knew Lyles, who had a criminal history, and were concerned for the officers’ safety.
As per the story given by the two officers, upon arriving at Charleena’s apartment, she came at them with a knife. In recently released audio of the shooting, officers can be heard yelling “Get back! Get back!” before shots ring out.
The Times reports that both officers fired their weapons hitting Charleena multiple times. There were three children in the apartment at the time of the shooting. The children were not injured and have been taken into protective custody.
“There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies,” Monika Williams, Lyles’ sister.
Family members told the Times that the shooting was unnecessary and that race was a factor. The Seattle Police Department tells the Times that both officers are white.
Lyles’ family said she had a history of mental illness but insisted she wasn’t a threat.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down,” Williams told the Times.
Authorities offered few immediate details about what led police to fire their weapons. Early Monday, the police department released an audio recording capturing what they described as “some of the interaction with the caller prior to the rapid development of the use of force incident.”
On the recording, which officials said was captured by dashboard video cameras in the patrol cars, officers can be heard discussing a woman who had previously made “all these weird statements.” Neither officer is identified, and police say all names have been removed from the recording.
The recording captured officers speaking to a woman about an Xbox that she said was taken. Seconds after that interaction, however, the encounter suddenly escalates and the officers can be heard shouting at the woman to back away.
“Hey, get back! Get back!” an officer shouts, a call echoed by the other officer, before a volley of gunshots are heard.
In a short statement accompanying the recording, police said that both police officers involved “were equipped with less lethal force options, per departmental policy.”