Her fatal shooting by two Seattle police officers Sunday highlights complex issues the region and country — including this newsroom — are grappling with.
The fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles by two Seattle police officers was a tragedy that unfolded quickly Sunday. It also was a breaking-news story that touched on many sensitive issues our region and country are grappling with — race, gender, mental illness and policing.
In that context, some of The Seattle Times’ headlines online Sunday and in print Monday lacked sensitivity and caused readers pain. For that we apologize.
Specifically, an early online headline (“Knife-wielding woman killed by officers she called: 3 children found in Magnuson apartment”) focused on Lyles being armed and did not attribute that report to police, which upset some readers.
We also heard from readers who thought our Monday A1 print headline (“Mother killed by cops had mental issues, family says”) focused too much on her mental state and not on other circumstances around the shooting death of an African- American mother with her children nearby by two white policemen. Some read that as justification for the shooting, which we certainly did not intend.
- Charleena Lyles loved her children, dancing and Fourth of July, says brother of woman killed by Seattle police
- Seattle police officers had no viable alternatives when they fatally shot Charleena Lyles, review board finds
- Lyles’ alleged threat to kill boy wasn’t reported to police
- Civil lawsuit filed against Seattle police officers who fatally shot Charleena Lyles
- Family of Charleena Lyles begins legal action against city of Seattle
- Charleena Lyles had long turned to Seattle police for help before fatal confrontation
- Victim advocate: Charleena Lyles faced boyfriend’s escalating violence
- Seattle mother of 4 shot by police was getting mental-health help, records show
- ‘Get back! Get back!’: Seattle police release audio of fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles
- Seattle officer who shot Charleena Lyles under investigation for leaving Taser in locker
- Police transcript of fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles: ‘I don’t have a taser’
- Fatal shooting of black woman by white officers met with widespread outrage
- Seven years on, and Seattle still doesn't have police body cameras | Danny Westneat
The story is complex and echoes issues that are being debated nationally and locally. It elicits strong emotions. We understand that, and we promise to handle our coverage with sensitivity and humanity while pursuing the truth aggressively and objectively. We will question the Seattle Police Department about policies and practices — including training generally and conduct in cases involving people with mental illness — while providing as much context and information as possible about this case and its impact on our community.
Our credibility is The Seattle Times’ most important asset, and we intend to rebuild any trust we may have lost with our readers.
For those of you who have weighed in on our coverage, thank you for sharing your perspective. We welcome community input on how we can improve, and we are taking your feedback seriously as we continue to report on this important story.
You can email me or share your thoughts in the comments online.