Prominent Bellevue attorney representing family of mother shot by police
The same lawyer who took on the fatal Che Taylor shooting case has signed on to represent the family of Charleena Lyles, the woman shot by Seattle police on Sunday.
“The next step for my firm will be an investigation of this matter, doing everything we can to review reports, interview witnesses, talk to folks around that particular area, and really be focused on gathering evidence and information,” said Attorney James Bible. “We would anticipate that there will be an inquest in this, and we will be prepared to go forward with the inquest.”
Charleena Lyles, a pregnant 30-year-old mother of four, died after an officer-involved shooting at her apartment near Magnuson Park on Sunday. She called 911 to report a burglary. Seattle police report that she confronted the responding officers with a knife which led to the fatal incident.
Bible is a civil and criminal defense lawyer and former president of the Seattle NAACP. Over the past year he also represented the family of Che Taylor, who was fatally shot by Seattle police in early 2016. In March, prosecutors declined to press any charges in the case of Taylor’s death.
Bible said that it will be difficult to recreate the officer-involved shooting and how the cops perceived the situation with Lyles.
“I think that ultimately the loss of life, in and of itself, at the hands of state authorities should give everybody pause,” Bible said. “And when you have young children involved in what occurred, that witnessed it, that experienced it and no longer have a mother, coupled with the fact that I believe she was calling 911 for help herself, I think we have a responsibility to thoroughly investigate and evaluate that sort of case.”
“I have to believe that there’s a better way to address issues and concerns without shooting people,” he said.
Reported mental illness before officer-involved shooting
The June 18 incident is not the first encounter between police and Lyles. On June 5, police responded to Lyles’ apartment for a domestic disturbance call. According to police documents, she threatened officers with large shears.
The situation was tense; Lyles’ children were also present. Officers had their guns drawn. The report states the Lyles was making “unusual comments” such as wanting to morph into a wolf, or cloning her daughter. The police report also states that she said “several unusual religious comments talking about how the police officers were devils and also members of the KKK.” Police referenced these details in an audio recording for the fatal June 18 incident.
Officers eventually convinced Lyles to drop the large scissors. She was taken into custody that night, and the case was referred to mental health court.
The police report states that Lyles’ family was concerned about her “recent sudden and rapid decline in her mental health” after the June 5 call. The family was reportedly surprised Lyles had threatened police with the shears.
On June 13, a court ordered that Lyles was not to possess any weapons or any items that could be used as a weapon.