Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest

Jun 30, 2022, 6:45 PM
Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest (KIRO 7)...
Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

For the first time after multiple delays, the family of Charleena Lyles, the pregnant woman who was shot and killed by police in 2017, heard directly from one of the officers who fired.

The officer, Jason Anderson, testified on day six of the police inquest into the death of Lyles.

Anderson answered questions before a jury in the King County Child and Family Justice Center. He believes he fired four of the seven shots that hit and killed the 30-year-old, while claiming he waited until the last possible moment to use lethal force.

“I had drawn my firearm and told Ms. Lyles to get back,” said Anderson.

An emotional outburst came from Lyles’ father, Charles, who took issue with an attorney for one of the officers suggesting that Lyles’ burglary report was just a ruse to get cops to her home, so she could provoke them to shoot and kill her.

“She was not trying to commit suicide,” Charles Lyles said. “I’m tired of them saying that. My daughter was not trying to commit suicide by no police. It’s wrong for you to keep saying that.”

On June 18, 2017, Lyles called 911 asking for help at her north Seattle apartment. Two officers arrived because a caution alert was attached to her name due to a previous incident where she threatened law enforcement. Lyles was fatally shot by both responding officers who reported that she lunged at them with knives.

While Lyles’ family has said she suffered from some mental health issues, they say there is no evidence she planned a suicide by cop situation.

Lyles’ cousin, Katrina Johnson, told KIRO 7 TV that tensions between the family and the officers and their attorneys have been high during the inquest, especially after one of the officers who shot her, Steven McNew, called in SWAT after words were exchanged between he and Charles Lyles last week.

“You didn’t send out patrol and regular uniform cops,” Johnson said. “You sent out the special weapons and tactics team. So if you are afraid of an elderly man in a wheelchair, that lets me know that my five-foot-three, 100-pound cousin didn’t have a fighting chance.”

Ted Buck, one of the attorneys for McNew and Anderson, says SWAT response is normal if there’s been a verbal threat.

“I think there’s an implication like the SWAT team rolled up in a Bearcat and they had all their tactical gear on or something. That’s not what happened,” Buck said. “If an officer needs, for example, an escort to or from a highly-charged event like this, that’s usually handled by the SWAT team.”

The inquest hearing is scheduled to continue through July 6.

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Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest