Seattle is reeling after the shooting of a 30 year old woman by SPD. Charleena Lyles called Seattle Police Department to report an attempted burglary. Charleena, several months pregnant, had a few encounters with law enforcement this month. Recently, she’d been resolving an abusive domestic situation. A judge ordered that she undergo mental health counseling as part of a conditional release on June 14. Police were seemingly familiar with Charleena and her children as they can be heard on dash cam audio asking, “is this the one with the three kids?” One would think, given the context and recent history they would send officers trained to deal with mental health crises.
Officers can be heard discussing previous encounters and statements as they approached the building. Once in the unit they were given and initial statement by Ms. Lyles and informed of what had been taken. As suspected there were three children in the house as officers observed after entering. At some point, as you can hear on the audio, this encounter went south. Officers can be heard ordering Lyles to “Get back!”A few moments later, gunfire. Charleena Lyles would later be pronounced dead.
Advocates for de-escalation training and police reform held a vigils and protests immediately. NotThisTime was ready. They are spearheading the push for legislative reform via ballot initiative. They will be taking this ballot, initiative 940 to the streets. Andre Taylor, founder of NOT THIS TIME, stepped up ready to lead the charge. With petitions in hand, he and De-Escalate Washington will gather over 300,000 signatures to bring about reform. Initiative 940 tackles police reform though de-escalation training, mandates first aid response by officers and tweaks the justification for the use of deadly force.
There have been over 450 deaths as a result of lethal force by police this year. Washington citizens are moving to take reform into their own hands. If police departments are not perceived as helping the people, citizens grow anxious and angry. It’s a great thing to see this passion directed into a movement that could bring quick change. It is imperative that citizens learn to examine their state’s legislative resources. Go online, contact your local board of elections and check out your options to initiate change.
Marches and protests have met resistance from the public. Drivers have been reported blocking marchers during the ‘Say Her Name’ march in memory of Charleena Lyles. The investigation around Charleena Lyles’ death continues. Officers have been placed on paid leave.