Charleena Lyles, the 30-year-old mother fatally shot by Seattle police on Sunday.
Charleena Lyles, the 30-year-old mother fatally shot by Seattle police on Sunday. Courtesy of family

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Seattle police officers fatally shot a 30-year-old black mother at a housing complex near Magnuson Park, according to a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department.

Family members identified the victim as Charleena Lyles, a mother of four, including a toddler with down syndrome. Monika Williams, Lyles' sister, said police shot Lyles in front of her children. She added that Lyles had a history of mental health problems and was released from King County jail less than a week ago. Williams also said that Lyles was pregnant with a fifth child.

Police confirmed that three of Lyles' children are with other family members.

Just before the shooting, two officers responded to a burglary call at the property at around 10 a.m, said SPD Detective Mark Jamieson. Lyles reportedly made the call. Both officers reportedly fired their weapons after she showed a knife. The Times reports that both officers are white. Both officers have been placed on leave, per department policy.

Typically, just one officer responds to burglary reports. But a flag on Lyles' case due to an incident last week involving a weapon triggered the department to send two officers.

"The officers need to pay for what they did," said Williams. "Even if my sister had a knife in her hand, she weighs like nothing, even if she's soaking wet. There's no way you could've taken a taser and taken her down? There's no way you could've taken a baton and knocked the knife out of her hand?"

Neighbor Lhora Murray, 42, said she heard shots and called the police, unaware that it was Seattle officers who fired their weapons. Murray, who lives in the unit directly below the victim's apartment, said police handed her two of the victim's children—a 10-year-old and the toddler with down syndrome. "They shot my mom," the 10-year-old reportedly said as Murray took him outside.

Murray added that she often heard yelling coming from Lyles' unit and has called the complex's security multiple times due to disturbances in the apartment.

According to the Times, initial reports indicated that a man shot his wife, triggering a police call, though it was not immediately clear where that report came from. SPD disputed this version of events. "I don't know anything about a man shooting his wife," Jamieson said.

No officers were injured during the incident, the police department reports. The department did not release any more information about the deceased woman or the officers involved.

Photographer Bettina Hansen went to the scene shortly after the shooting occurred:


The shooting took place at a low-income housing complex run by Solid Ground, a nonprofit organization. Approximately 400 people live at the site, which contains both transitional and permanent housing for formerly homeless people. About half the residents are children, according to Mike Buchman, communications director for the organization.

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Through the afternoon detectives with the force investigations team and crime scene investigators were both at the site. The apartment building where the shooting took place was roped off with caution tape, but residents could file in and out through a side entrance. Lyles' family members, as well as residents of the complex, gathered outside a nearby transitional housing building.

3:30 p.m: This story has been updated with new information.

5:00 p.m: This story has been updated to identify Charleena Lyles, the victim of a police shooting.

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