AFRICANGLOBE – A Washington state judge has dismissed claims in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four who was killed by Seattle police.
The Jan. 4 summary judgment by King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector dismissed the claims against Officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew with prejudice. When a case is dismissed with prejudice, it cannot be refiled but may be appealed to a higher court.
A lawsuit filed against the city by Lyles’ family still stands.
Lyles, 30, was fatally shot on June 18, 2017, after reporting a burglary at her Northeast Seattle apartment. Anderson and McNew said Lyles allegedly confronted them at the scene and came after them with a knife. She was shot seven times and died at the scene.
In the wake of the shooting, questions were raised about why the officers did not use nonlethal force on Lyles, who weighed less than 100 pounds and had mental health issues.
According to transcripts of interviews with the officers, when Lyles moved toward them with the knife, McNew asked Anderson to use a Taser on her. Anderson said he did not have his Taser — he had left it in his locker — and they both shot her.
Three of her children were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. According to a transcript of McNew’s interview, “one of the little babies” crawled into the room after the shooting and rested “his head against” his mother’s body.
“There is no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies,” Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams, told reporters at the time. “She had mental health issues that nobody is trying to address.”
Her death sparked an outcry in the city and allegations that the shooting was racially motivated because Lyles was Black and the two officers are white.
Still, a Seattle police review board predictably found the shooting was justified.
Among the allegations levied in the lawsuit by Lyles’ family is a claim that Seattle police violated her civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act because she was suffering from a “significant mental illness condition.”
The officers acted in self-defense, their attorneys argued.
“Ms. Lyles’ death is a direct result of her commission of felonies and failure to follow the clear verbal commands of Officers Anderson and McNew to ‘get back,’” the attorneys wrote in court papers, the Times reported.
Spector’s ruling did not include a detailed analysis of her findings.
The family’s attorney, Karen Koehler, said she will appeal the ruling.
By: David Lohr