Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Black mother slain by Seattle police battled mental health decline

Police say she brandished a knife at the two responding officers, and while family members don't dispute that, they say she was a petite woman with mental health issues. But police were familiar with Lyles and her apartment, he said, and her called flagged "hazard information" affiliated with her apartment that "presented an increased risk to officers", the detective said. The statement also revealed that there were several children in the apartment at the time, who were unharmed and are now being cared for by family members.

The Seattle Police Department has been implementing court-ordered reforms since 2012 to address what a U.S. Justice Department investigation found to be a pattern of excessive force by officers that often arose during encounters with the mentally ill or drug-addled suspects. They are questioning the decision to shoot the young mother since she was a diminutive woman who called the police for help. "I could have taken her down".

"There is no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies", Monika Williams, the sister of the slain woman, told reporters outside the apartment building.

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a e-mail asking whether the officers on June 5 were the same officers who shot Lyles on Sunday. Both officers fired their duty weapons, striking the woman. Lyles was several months pregnant with her fifth child, the family said. They said she was concerned that authorities would take her children, one of whom they said has Down syndrome.

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The department's Force Investigative Team is investigating the officers's use of deadly force in the shooting.

"Hello, good morning", one of the officers says in the audio. "She has a mental health issue that no one is addressing", Willams said.

Around a hundred people gathered Sunday for a vigil honoring Lyles. The children were identified by family as two boys and a girl, ages 11, 4 and 1.

In fact, KIRO reports that Lyles had just been released from jail on June 14, having been incarcerated about a week on charges of harassment and obstructing a police officer. The 10-year-old reportedly said, "They shot my mom".

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