SEATTLE (AP) — Family members of a pregnant mother shot and killed by Seattle police questioned Monday why they didn’t use a Taser or other non-lethal options when they encountered the woman, who the officers knew had been struggling with mental health issues.
The two officers had gone to Charleena Lyles’ apartment on Sunday after she reported a burglary. She confronted them with a knife, authorities said.
An audio recording of the encounter released by police indicates the officers spent about two minutes calmly speaking with Lyles before the situation escalated in the span of a few seconds.
“Get back! Get back!” an officer says, and a woman’s voice responds, “Do it! Do it!” An officer radios “We need help!” and the police say “Get back!” again three more times before five gunshots are heard.
Seattle police said the officers immediately performed first aid, but medics arrived and determined she had died.
The shooting comes as Seattle police are under federal oversight following a 2011 investigation that found officers were too quick to use force. All Seattle officers receive training on how to better handle those with mental illness or abusing drugs.
Kenny Isabell said his cousin, Lyles, was pregnant and some of her four other children were inside the apartment during the shooting. He said she was depressed but not violent and “was going through some things in her life.”
Still, she was attending his church regularly while making an effort to improve her life, said Isabell, pastor of The Way of Holiness Church of God in Seattle. “Now this. It’s unfortunate. It’s disturbing.”
Lyles was black, and Isabell said he’s frustrated with police killing black people across the country.
“Do our lives really matter to them?” he asked. “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.”
Police would not release the identities of the officers or their race.
The department said it had been a typical…