Judge says no to request to dismiss negligence claim in Seattle Police fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles.
February 28, 2018
Charleena Lyles, age 30, shot to death on June 18, 2017 at her North Seattle apartment by Seattle Police
(SEATTLE, WA.) – On Tuesday a King County judge refused to dismiss a negligence claim in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought against the city of Seattle and two Seattle police officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles last year.
Superior Court Judge Julie Spector rejected a motion brought by attorneys for police officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew that was joined by the city, a motion that argued the estate of Lyles had no basis for allegations of negligence against either the city or the officers and that any lawsuit over the death of Lyles should have been brought as a civil rights matter in federal court alleging excessive force.’
The Seattle Times reported that Ghazal Sharifi, an attorney for the city, said in an email the city is reviewing the Court’s opinion and are evaluating “our next steps.”
Charleena Lyles was buried on Monday July 10, 2017. The pregnant 30-year old black woman and mother of four made a fatal mistake the day she died on June 18th of that year: she called police to report a burglary and then, "The systems that were supposed to protect her ended up failing her instead. And the very people she reached out to for help in the end were the ones that took her life – with her children present to bear witness," wrote the Rev. Harriett G. Walden, contributing writer to The Huffington Post and founder of Mothers for Police Accountability.
Walden, in a July 2017 article for the Post says the shooting of Ms. Lyles on Father’s Day at the hands of two Seattle police officers was as tragic as it was senseless.
"And three weeks later it still angers and haunts me, as a mother and a grandmother, but also as someone who was involved early on in creating the very system to prevent these kinds of tragedies in the first place," she wrote.
Mothers for Police Accountability, which Walden founded, began working in the late 1990s with the Seattle Police Department as well as county mental health practitioners to find more humane responses for officers dealing with people in mental health crises.
In the HP piece Walden notes that Seattle police officers are required to have at least eight hours of crisis training and most are CIT-certified, which means they have more extensive 40-hour training.
"Both officers who shot Lyles had been trained," said Walden. "And we know the training works. The department’s own report last August showed that over the span of a year, Seattle police used force in less than 2 percent of roughly 9,300 incidents in which they believed someone suspected of a disturbance or crime was mentally ill or in a state of crisis. The reporting is required under the court-ordered 2012 consent decree between (DOJ) and the city. But it didn’t work for Ms. Lyles. We need to understand why."
Walden believes the reason Lyles died is because these two officers, "Failed to see her as a human being. Mothers For Police Accountability wants to know if this is a prelude to what will happen when the DOJ monitor checks all the boxes and leaves town. What will happen when nobody’s watching?"
According to the white police officers who shot Lyles, she attacked them with one or two knives and they had no recourse but to shoot her.
Charleena’s death sparked outrage and protests in the city.