Charleena Lyles, 30, was shot dead in her Seattle apartment in 2017 after attacking two officers responding to reports of a robbery
Two police officers facing a wrongful death lawsuit after shooting dead a pregnant African American woman have seen the case against them dismissed.
Jason Anderson and Steven McNew, of the Seattle Police Department, shot 30-year-old Charleena Lyles seven times in her apartment in June 2017 after she called to report that an Xbox had been stolen.
Anderson and McNew say that, while in the apartment in Seattle’s northeast, Lyles attacked them with at least one knife, giving them no choice but to open fire.
All seven bullets struck Lyles – hitting her in her chest, arm, hip and abdomen, including at least one bullet that hit her unborn child.
Both mother and baby were rushed to hospital where they subsequently died.
The shooting happened in front of Lyles’ four other children.
Lyles had a history of mental illness and violence towards police, including when she threatened an officer with long-bladed scissors just two weeks before she died.
Officers were frequently called to her address, mostly for reports of domestic violence, including on the occasion that police were threatened.
Jason Anderson (left) and Steven McNew (right) said Lyles attacked them with at least one knife, forcing them to shoot. They have since had a wrongful death lawsuit dismissed
Lyles, who had a history of mental illness and threatening police, was shot seven times – including at least one bullet that hit her unborn child
After that incident police put a warning on her file and on the night Lyles died, Anderson – who arrived first – had called for backup after seeing it.
McNew then drove to the scene, before both men went into the apartment.
While Lyles’ relatives accept that she was troubled, they questioned why officers had immediately reached for their guns when she attacked them.
Lawyers for the family argued that Lyles, who was slight, could have been restrained using physical force and say race played a role in the officers’ decision to shoot.
Lyles was African American, while both of the officers are white.
On January 4, Judge Julie Spector dismissed the case against the two men with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled, the Seattle Times reported.
Lyles was shot and killed in front of her four other children after reporting that an Xbox had been stolen from their apartment
Anderson arrived at the home first before calling McNew to the scene after seeing that Lyles had a warning on her file. Both men then entered the apartment
Lyles’ relatives accept she had a troubled history, but argue the officers could have used physical force to subdue her and say race played a part in their decision to open fire
While the judge did not issue a detailed explanation for her decision, attorneys for Anderson and McNew had argued that Lyles was killed in the commission of a felony.
Washington state law provides a ‘complete defense’ in personal injury or wrongful death cases where the person is injured or killed in commission of a felony, and the felony was the main cause of their death.
Lawyers for Lyles say they plan to appeal the decision to a higher court.
The Seattle Police Department has already cleared the two officers of wrongdoing, saying their actions were within guidelines and training.
The City of Seattle, which was also named as a defendant in the wrongful death suit, has also cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
Friday’s ruling clears the way for the city to move for dismissal.