Seattle agrees to settlement in Charleena Lyles wrongful death lawsuit

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A settlement has been reached in a civil lawsuit over the wrongful death of Charleena Lyles.

As part of the terms, the City of Seattle will pay a $3.5 million settlement to the family of Charleena Lyles, a Black woman who was shot and killed by Seattle police in 2017, in exchange for dismissal of the entire litigation.

Lyles, 30-year-old pregnant mother of four, had called police to report a burglary at her apartment in June 2017. Officers say that when they arrived, she lunged at them with a knife. Family members have insisted that Lyles had mental health problems and that police failed to de-escalate the situation before opening fire.

Seattle police found that the officers were justified in their use of force, although one of the officers was briefly suspended for failing to carry a Taser.

Since Lyles’ death, Washington state has enacted several police reform measures aimed at increasing training and accountability for those who use deadly force.

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The wrongful death lawsuit was supposed to go to trial in February 2022, but the two sides agreed to a settlement Monday night.

“It is indisputable that this has been a tragedy, and we are glad to have some level of closure for the parties. We stand by the multiple layers of review of this event and are pleased that the officers will be dismissed from the lawsuit. The remaining parties will be mutually seeking judicial approval for a resolution of all claims,” said Dan Nolte, communications director with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, in an email to KIRO Radio.

The lawsuit against the officers involved had initially been dismissed by former King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector on Jan. 4, 2019. The matter went up on appeal, was reversed on Feb. 16, 2021, and remanded back to Superior Court for a Feb. 7, 2022, trial date.