*Seattle police officers fatally shot a 30-year-old pregnant woman at her apartment Sunday morning after she had called to report a possible burglary, reports the Seattle Times.
Officers claim that the woman, Charleena Lyles, “confronted” them with a knife upon their arrival, according to a statement from authorities.
Relatives say she had a history of mental illness, was three months along in her pregnancy, and too “tiny” for cops to have felt threatened by her — even if she was holding a knife.
“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Lyles’s sister, Monika Williams, said to the Seattle Times during a vigil Sunday night. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
On Sunday morning just before 10 a.m., two patrol officers were called to a reported burglary at Brettler Family Place, an apartment complex for people transitioning out of homelessness, according to Detective Mark Jamieson.
Usually, only one officer would respond to a standard burglary call like this one, Jamieson told reporters. But police were familiar with Lyles and her apartment, he said, and her call flagged “hazard information” affiliated with her apartment that “presented an increased risk to officers,” the detective said.
Officers walked to the fourth floor and “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife,” Jamieson told reporters. Both officers, who have not been identified, opened fire on Lyles. They performed CPR, according to authorities, but Lyles was later declared dead by fire department officials at the scene.
The children inside at the time were unharmed, and police were trying to determine whether the children had witnessed the shooting.
The department’s Force Investigative Team is investigating the officers’ decision to use deadly force. Both officers will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, authorities said.
Early Monday, the police department released an audio recording that they say reveals “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.” The recording captured officers speaking to a woman about an Xbox that she said was taken. Seconds later, the officers are heard yelling at the woman back up.
“Hey, get back! Get back!” says one of the cops, and then, the other, before several 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.”
Family members told the Seattle Times that they believe Lyles’s race — she is black — was a factor in her death. Seattle police told the newspaper that the officers who shot her are white.
Below, a video recap of the story by The Washington Post: