In strongly worded court papers, the city attorneys blasted lawyers representing the Charleena Lyles estate for claiming one of the two officers who shot Lyles perjured himself when he testified the door to her apartment was closed when the deadly confrontation occurred.
Allegations that a Seattle police officer committed perjury in his testimony about the fatal shooting last year of Charleena Lyles are a baseless attempt to damage his credibility and right to a fair trial, attorneys defending the city say.
In strongly worded court papers filed Friday, the attorneys responded to a motion brought last week by lawyers representing the Lyles estate and the guardian ad litem of her four children. As part of a lawsuit, the lawyers claim one of the two officers who shot Lyles perjured himself when he testified the door to her apartment was closed when the confrontation occurred.
To bolster their assertion, the lawyers representing Lyles’ estate released police video and audio synchronized to silent surveillance video from the apartment hallway, which they say shows that Officer Jason Anderson stepped into the hallway through an open door as he fired.
They asked King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector to find that Anderson had given “material false testimony” and refer the matter to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.
In their response, the city’s attorneys describe the motion as “frivolous” and a publicity stunt. They write that the motion should be denied and that monetary sanctions should be imposed on lawyers Karen Koehler and Edward Moore for violating professional-conduct rules.
Anderson has consistently stated, under questioning by police investigators and in a deposition in the lawsuit, that it is his recollection that the door was closed at the time the shots were fired, the city’s attorneys say.
In his deposition, Anderson “consistently stated that he stepped out into the hallway after he completed firing his weapon, creating distance between himself and Ms. Lyles,” the city’s response says.
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Lyles, 30, was shot on June 18, 2017, by Anderson and Officer Steven McNew after she reported a burglary and, according to the officers, suddenly attacked them with one or two knives inside her northeast Seattle apartment.
“This motion shocks the conscience and serves no legitimate purpose,” the city’s attorneys say in their response. “This motion prejudices a party in this litigation, solicits the media, contaminates the jury pool, and attacks a party’s character and credibility.”
At issue is Anderson’s “recollection” of a “rapidly evolving, dynamic situation in which he and his partner were faced with an imminent threat of a deadly weapon,” the response says.
Koehler, replying on behalf of the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “The disrespectful tone of the response and bully tactics used are a poor reflection on the City of Seattle. The City’s lawyers believe that by aggressively charging the Estate of Charleena Lyles’ attorneys with misconduct, they can sidestep and minimize the issue of whether Officer Anderson actually committed the alleged perjury. We are confident that the truth will come out in this case. We stand on our motion and the evidence produced to support it.”
A plaintiffs’ expert compared partial patrol-car video from outside the apartment building and full audio of the call, recorded on the officers’ microphones, to the hallway surveillance video. In the expert’s synchronized version, the sound of shots can be heard on the police recording as Anderson is seen in the doorway and hall on the surveillance video.
In their motion, the plaintiffs contend Anderson’s “false story” about the closed door, along with misrepresentations of distance and lack of shielding, combined in part to mislead the Police Department’s Force Review Board (FRB), Force Investigation Team and crime-scene investigators, as well as the court in the lawsuit.
The FRB in November unanimously found the shooting to be reasonable, necessary and proportional and consistent with department training and policy.
In a subsequent report, the FRB explained that Lyles posed an immediate lethal threat to the officers and two of her small children nearby.
Anderson told police investigators he fired after Lyles thrust a knife toward him and then quickly moved toward McNew, who was trapped inside the apartment.
Anderson described himself as in “fear that she was gonna try and kill my partner um ’cause she was going after him.”