Seattle Police Answered 23 Calls Before Killing Woman

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In 18 months before Charleena Lyles was fatally shot by two Seattle police officers, police responded to her apartment 23 times, a number that represents almost 30 percent of all calls for service to the building that houses formerly homeless families, the Seattle Times reports. The disclosure came in a memo from police department lawyer Brian Maxey in response to a list of 34 questions posed by members of the Seattle City Council after Lyles’ death. Lyles, a 30-year-old African-American mother of four with a history of mental illness, was fatally shot by officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson on June 18. Police say she threatened the officers with at least one knife after calling 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen two video-game consoles.

Her death sparked community outrage, with a demonstration and march through downtown Seattle, followed by a community forum where critics labeled Lyle’s killing as a “murder” and “modern-day lynching” by police. The police memo raises concerns that others reflect a lack of understanding of crisis-intervention principles to the point “they have the real potential to perpetuate the stigmatization of mental illness.” Of the 23 calls to Lyles’ apartment, there were 10 reports of domestic disturbances, four domestic assaults, three burglary reports, two reports of child abuse or neglect, one threat, one welfare check, one report of a missing child and one follow-up on a previous disturbance.

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