UPDATED: Charleena Lyles' Family Files Claim Against City of Seattle


So sorry for the family, but the officers were not to blame.
@1: well, that settles it then.
It must be somebody else's fault that they broke department policy and neglected to bring tasers.
I hope the family prevails. Please keep us informed of any legal defense fund that may be set up.
@3, That assumes training and policy would allow the use of a taser under the facts and circumstances that officers were in, that it was safe and prudent exercise of due care for one's own life (or serious injury) or your partner not to go with a safer option, and that the taser would have worked (they fail to stop a threat nearly 50% of the time, handguns aren't perfect either, but are more reliable). The City might settle because it will cost at least $500,000 in legal fees they can't recover from the plaintiff even if they win a d get court ordered legal fees. You can't collect from a party that can use bankruptcy code provisions to shelter income and assets.
Imagine if we had a rigorous and transparent process where officer conduct was reviewed by independent representatives of the people the police supposedly serve. And the cops couldn't just overturn their conclusions. Maybe the community would respect the outcome of that kind of review, and there wouldn't be this endless entrenched disagreement over what happened and whose fault it was.

Of course state law says cops in Washington has an absolute license to kill, so there's that.

So if you're a cranky old white man who is angry that all these young people and brown people don't respect the law and don't respect our heroic and noble LEOs, that's why. The system is designed to make the police look guilty. Why else would you need to have so many redundant layers of laws and bureaucracy whose only function is to make sure cops escape justice? It's like when Trump makes everyone else leave the room before talking to the FBI director one on one. It is considered evidence of intent to break the law. When he wants to issue blanket pardons to himself and his minions, it's evidence that they did something they need to be pardoned for.

The system in Washington, and the rules demanded by the cop union are evidence of intent to murder citizens. If you want everyone to believe that the police have no desire or intention to kill people without justification, then you need a system and a set of laws that holds the police fully accountable.

If you really believe that 99.9% of cops are good and decent and all that jazz, why do we have to go to such lengths to protect those good and decent cops from justice? You insult them by this system that assumes they must be guilty of something, or will be eventually, and need shield laws to keep them out of the slammer.
There is no excuse for this cold blooded murder. Murder that is what it was. First degree.
@7: I disagree. Not even close.This is 1st Degree Manslaughter. There's a difference. Learn it.

@8: No. Manslaughter would be the Philando Castile killing, or the death of Eric Garner. Murder would be the Walter Scott killing. Charleena Lyles' death was the result of justified use of force in response to a potentially lethal threat.
Mentally unbalanced woman advances on police wielding knives and has three or four young children in her apartment...fate of which is unknown and certainly a very dangerous situation not only for police but for innocent children. .

Police instruct woman with mental problems to drop knives. She disregards and advances on police.

Police shoot and kill woman.

Hmmm! Sad, but not unexpected.
Amazing to think that this woman ambushed two police officers with lethal weapons, was justifiably shot in self-defense, and now her estate has the temerity to sue the city and attempt to profit off her criminality.

Truly unbelievable.
@11 Sadly, its true..

What is truly extraordinary is the family who should have been there for her is now front and center on the gravy train hoping to cash in on her death.

Should we not consider how their lack of action was just as lethal as a police officer's gun.

When will there be accountability on the very people who are now suing for money.

You don't seem sad at all.
@5, a taser may be an imperfect weapon, and not suitable for all conditions, but they didn't even try. Why? Because neither of them even had a taser on them. Audio of the call out and talk en route tells us they knew the mother had a history of mental illness. Yet they go in with no other alternatives than handguns. In the audio from the scene, you can even hear one officer telling the other they don't have a taser. So they obviously thought it was worth trying a taser before killing her. But nobody had a taser, so oh well, had to shoot her.

So yeah, it seems like better training and better non-lethal options may have avoided having to shoot this woman.

Mental illness is an ILLNESS, just like it says, not a CRIME, and yes, sometimes people suffering from mental illness engage in behavior that puts themselves and others at-risk. But, if as a society our position is going to be, "well, okay, they're mentally ill, but they still should have known what would happen if they did ____", then I guess there's really no point in adopting policies for de-escalation, or any other form of mitigating behavior for that matter; because, you know, trying to prevent a mentally ill person from harming themselves or others is just way too much effort to expend, so let's just kill them all and to hell with it.

As for "profit", well those poor orphaned kids just lost the only parent they've ever known, as broken as she was, so maybe society SHOULD pay a penalty for depriving them through no fault of their own. Or did you expect they were going to be thrown into a sweatshop or a down coal shaft to make ends meet between now and the time they become independent adults? I suppose we can always declare them wards of the state and throw them into the foster care system, which most likely means they won't see each other again for years, and get bounced around from place-to-place, and suffer who knows what additional mental, emotional, psychological and/or physical damage as a result ON TOP of having experienced the singular horror of seeing their mother gunned down in front of them, but hey, what are you gonna do, amiright?
Too bad she didn't get this much attention from her family when she was alive.
I agree the incident could have been prevented - if Lyles hadn't picked up two knives and threatened two police officers. Given that she instigated the violence it would be a shame for the city to settle this claim at taxpayer expense.
#14: And knowing they didn't have tasers, why didn't they ask for backup WITH tasers? Also, why didn't they listen to Charleena's relatives when the relatives try to fill them in on Charleena's condition and the best way to approach her when she was like that?

Finally...we don't know, as outsiders, that Charleena's family "wasn't there for her", so none of us is qualified or entitled to judge them.
True #14, we don't know if her family was there for her. Just as you don't seem to know that based on the description of the close quarters they were in, that the police didn't appear to have time to call for back up, not how would they know what Charleena's family would suggest is the best way to approach her. Sadly, this is just another situation where we put police in a situation that is the result of failed mental health policies. I often see Seattle police dealing with sensitivity to addicts and homeless people. We don't read about those. We just hear about these tragedies when people die. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, some won't believe the results depending on the lens it's viewed through.
@9: IF you were to charge the officers, it would be Manslaughter. Of course, they wouldn't be convicted. They never are.

But they should be fired - they're going to cost the City millions to settle the claim.
@15 Attacking police officers is criminal, no matter whether you're mentally ill or not. If you want to blame someone, blame the judge who let her out of jail when she tried this stunt once before.

And the right to self-defense is absolute. If someone presents a bonafide threat of grievous bodily harm, you have both the legal right and the human right to defend yourself with lethal force. Lyles' mental state is completely irrelevant to that circumstance.
Unless Police procedures require officers to be carrying tasers, and it can be shown that tasers were supposed to be tried first, I doubt Lyle's family will prevail. The incident took place in the close confines of the apartment's kitchen, and given the fact that tasers have a fairly low effectiveness rate, the situation may not have allowed taser use. Also the fact that children were trapped in the apartment with an armed, unstable, and dangerous person make it clear that retreat wasn't necessarily an option for the police as well.

The Lyles family's attorney is probably working on a contingent fee, so it's a 'no lose' situation for the family. At the worst, they're out nothing, otherwise, they get a big payday. The kids may also be eligible for Social Security survivor's benefit as well.
Anyone who has read the police report and the comments from witnesses will realize that she was the aggressor and the cops were within their rights. She was a drug addict.
"Better training" means even more conditioning to shoot to kill on any pretext. What has put so many cops on a hair trigger if they so much as suspect there might be a knife anywhere? The "21 foot rule". They practice what's called the "Tueller Drill" which is a stage-managed exercise to condition you to believe that if there is a knife within 21 feet, you must shoot and kill the person holding it immediately. This is not science or criminology. It's just a thing made up by some cop. That cop capitalized on this random idea he got, and turned it into a cottage industry. Now cops everywhere take your money and spend it paying for this training. They practice killing anybody with a knife, on reflex.

We need to confront what it means when we say we want police to have "more training". Send them off for training, and this is what they'll be learning. As we speak the story of Charleena Lyles murder is being taught in police training as an example of how a good cop defends himself and his partner no matter what. If there are any cops who aren't aware of how astronomically unlikely that they will ever be convicted of anything, those cops will find out if you send them for "more training".

What do you think they're taught about non-lethal options in standard police training? That they're a joke that gets cops killed. They're taught to shoot.

Can't train your way out of this shit hole.
@13: Who are you to doubt the sincerity of the first adverb in a sentence?
#19: I meant why didn't they call for backup with tasers while they were still driving to the scene. They had plenty of time to do that while they were still enroute.

#22: Their daughter is dead. They're seeking a monetary judgment because the only thing that makes these institutions change is when they have to cut a big check after screwing up. It's disgusting that you'd accuse a grieving family of greed.
@8, It can't be manslaughter. Both RCW 9A.16.040 and 9A.16.050 give officer's and civilians alike the right to use deadly force when confronted with a deadly weapon that can cause "serious physical injury" (.040) or "great personal injury" (.050). If Lyles was wielding a knife or knives and coming at officer's that threshold was met and the law allows the officers or a civilian to use deadly force, even if less than deadly force is available. Even if that weren't true, the lack of time and space to deploy a taser, even if the officer who was supposed to have his with him, but didn't, had it, and its lack of reliability in stopping an attacker with a deadly weapon would mean the officer (or a civilian) could beat any criminal charge.

As an employment matter, the officer did not follow policy. That is the only culpable issue here: an employment matter.
Well....here is a good example of how well a cop issuing verbal commands to stop & a taser works:


Is this a situation where we do the march and chant "black lives matter".

Because its really confusing when people do stupid things and get shot as a consequence we seem to march and chant.

But when a cop does the right thing and is shot by one in his own community we don't.

@24, Unfortunately the things you criticize in cop training are factually correct (see @28 as one example) and legally correct. When you are confronted (as a cop or civilian) with someone presenting enough force that could cause you, or another, "serious physical injury" (RCW 9A.16.040) or "great personal injury" (RCW 9A.16.050) the person who presenting that force has given you the legal right to use ANY level of force against them, up to and including deadly force. The choice of how much force to use to protect yourself against the force presented is now yours and yours alone, without any further legal constraint. So why shouldn't be cops (and civilians alike) be trained in the actual, factual law, as it is, until and unless we as a society choose to further constrain individuals in how much force they can use in self-defense, whether it is in the course of employment (e.g. cops) or in any other context (e.g. civilian)?

That does not preclude, as SPD already does, additional training in verbal de-escalation, CIT training (training in dealing with the mentally ill), and less than lethal force options (and a requirement to use them, WHEN safe to do so). In the Lyle's case, the cops are responding to a burglary call and Lyle's, as the audio recording's shows, quickly, and with little warning, in a confined space, with no option to retreat (which wasn't an option anyway because of the children in the apartment, Lyle's irrational behavior, Lyle's possession and wielding of deadly weapons), comes at officer's with a deadly weapon. A situation where you use a weapon with the highest probability of immediately ending the threat (not a taser with a 50% or 60% probability).
I have opinions on who is to blame for Lyles death, but at the end of the day, this is a referndum on: "Her Remaining Family: Should they get some cash or should they get fucked?"

Even I'm not cruel enough to vote for the latter.
@30 Her kids are already less fucked than they were, now that their knife- and scissor-wielding mother is out of the picture.
Why didn't they use TASERs? Well why didn't Lyles try to stab them with spoons in her hands instead of knives?
@31 as someone who grew up with just my mom - a manic depressive with a catalog of drug addictions and who even attempted to take me with her on a suicide attempt - I can't really agree. Kids are a large responsibility, and they'll be a 2nd thought in any household except their parents. They'd have been better off if she were still alive, even if she was a shitty parent.

People with shitty parents often grow up to be shitty parents to their own children, but kids who are actively abused turn into complete monsters.