Judge Dismisses Wrongful Death Suit Filed By Family of Pregnant Woman Who Was Killed By Seattle Police

Clarkisha Kent Jan, 10, 2019

In a turn of events that should not shock anyone when we consider the state of Black lives in the United States of America, a Washington State Judge Julie Spector dismissed a wrongful death suit filed by the family of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four other children, asserting that law enforcement officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson  killed her in cold blood after she had requested law enforcement help due to a possible burglary.

The suit stems from the incident that took place back in June 2017 after Lyles was gunned down in her apartment in northeastern Seattle. The officers in question made the counterclaim that Lyles confronted them upon their arrival with a knife, which prompted them to shoot her seven times.

This use of excessive force has prompted necessary questions about police brutality in this country and is why mental health advocates strongly advise against calling the police to the scene when someone is suffering from a mental health episode. Many have questioned why non-lethal force was not employed in this case—considering how small Lyles was and her complex mental health history.

Further complicating the case is the fact that McNew suggested in multiple transcripts that the reason non-lethal force was not deployed is because the second officer in question carelessly “left his [Taser] in his locker”. One might assume this lack of care would be enough to at least suggest negligence, but this was not the case for the Seattle police review board or for Judge Spector.

The attorney for the family of Charleena Lyles, Karen Koehler, has already stated that she will seek to appeal the unjust ruling.