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Demands for answers after police kill pregnant Seattle mom

Seattle Post-Intelligencer logo Seattle Post-Intelligencer 5 days ago by GENNA MARTIN, SEATTLEPI.COM
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Video by Washington Post

There were more questions than answers in the hours after Seattle police officers fatally shot a pregnant mother in her home Sunday morning.

Dozens of people held vigil outside the Magnuson Park apartment building where Charleena Lyles was fatally shot by police. Lyles, 30, had reported a burglary attempt at her home.

Friends, family and other residents of the Brettler Family Place apartment complex in the North Seattle park gathered to remember Lyles and express concerns related to the shooting. Seattle mayoral candidates Bob Hasegawa and Nikkita Oliver were in attendance, as was local hip-hop artist Macklemore.

RELATED: Woman dead after officer-involved shooting in NE Seattle

Family members spoke about Lyles, who was a mother of four who was several months pregnant with her fifth child.

"She loved her kids to death, she was always the life of the party and had a smile on her face ... I loved her so much," her older sister Monika Williams said.

Several dozen people attend a vigil outside the apartment building of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old woman who was shot by police after she called them to respond to an attempted burglary, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Lyles has a history of mental illness and police say she brandished a knife during the incident.

Several dozen people attend a vigil outside the apartment building of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old woman who was shot by police after she called them to respond to an attempted burglary, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Lyles has a history of mental illness and police say she brandished a knife during the incident.
© GENNA MARTIN, SEATTLEPI.COM
Andre Taylor, whose brother of Che Taylor who was killed by Seattle police last year, and others spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement and grievances with the Seattle Police Department.

Early in the investigation, police contend Lyles was shot after brandishing a knife at officers. A lengthy inquiry is expected.

The shooting occurred just before 10 a.m., after officers arrived at Lyles fourth-story apartment in the 6800 block of 62nd Avenue Northeast.

Police Department spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson said two officers were responded to reports of a burglary. They arrived at the apartment, Jamieson said, and “were confronted by a 30-year-old woman armed with a knife.”

Her children were inside of the apartment at the time. Neither they nor the officers were injured. Police say the kids are being cared for by family members.

In weeks prior, Lyles was trying to get help for some mental health issues, Williams told KOMO News. She had been released from jail on Wednesday after being arrested following an argument with police.

"The obstruction was she wouldn't let go of her baby until I got here and she had some scissors in her hand. She didn't charge nobody or nothing," Williams said. "She just told them to call my sister and tell my sister gets here. And then when I got here, I told them then. 'Cause they didn't know whether to take her to jail or take her to mental health."

Lyles' family said three of her four children were inside the home at the time of the shooting. Lyles' brother, Domico Jones, says officers didn't have to use lethal force.

"If worse came to worse, use a Taser instead of a gun for someone that has three kids inside of their house," Jones said to KOMO News. "I feel that it's not gonna bring no harm to nobody."

Officers attempted CPR after the shooting Sunday, but they were unable to revive her.

The apartment building is owned by Solid Ground, a social service organization in Seattle.

Mike Buchman, Communications Director for the company, said trauma counselors are available for residents in need. The complex includes 9 properties and houses about 400 residents. About half of those residents are minors.

In a statement Sunday evening, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said shooting was a tragedy and called for a full investigation.

"My thoughts are with the many people impacted, including the three children and the responding officers," Murray said. "This will be fully investigated.”

Seattle police said both officers involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative leave, per department policy.

Williams set up a GoFundMe Sunday night to raise money to support Lyles' children. As of Monday morning, the campaign had raised more than double its initial goal of $5,000.

SeattlePI reporter Levi Pulkkinen contributed to this report, which contains information from KOMO News.

Seattlepi.com reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

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