Lyles, a 30-year-old African American, was fatally shot by two white police officers on June 18 after she called 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen two video-game consoles.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles by two Seattle police officers earlier this year.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended the inquest after reviewing an internal investigation into the June 18 shooting.
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Inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of a King County law enforcement agency in the line of duty. Inquest jurors do not weigh the criminal or civil liability of officers or law enforcement agencies, but instead determine the significant factual issues involved in the case.
Lyles, a 30-year-old African American mother of four, was shot seven times by Officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson after she called 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen two video-game consoles. Police say she threatened the officers with at least one knife before they opened fire. The officers found no evidence of a burglary, according to police.
Three of Lyles’ children were in her apartment when she was killed. Lyles was four months pregnant at the time of her death, according to attorneys representing her estate.
The shooting came at a time when Lyles’ life was spinning out of control and her interactions with police were growing more confrontational, according to recently released police reports. The shooting unleashed a storm of public protest, with many seeing it as another example of unnecessary deadly force being used by police against people of color.
After the shooting Seattle police released dashcam footage, video-surveillance footage from Lyles’ apartment, an audio recording of Lyles’ 911 call to report a residential burglary, information about a caution to officers that Lyles had previously been assaultive and threatening to officers, transcripts of statements given by McNew and Anderson, a crime-scene diagram of Lyles’ apartment and photos of the knives found in her apartment.
Lyles’ family has said the shooting could have been avoided and that they believe race was a factor. The officers who shot her are white.
Lyles’ father has filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the two officers alleging wrongful death and civil-rights violations.