King County Prosecutor declines to prosecute cops who killed Lyles

Jul 21, 2022, 11:51 AM

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)...

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The King County Prosecutor is upholding the jury’s decision from this month’s inquest into Charleena Lyles’ death, and choosing not to prosecute the two officers responsible for the death of Charleena Lyles in 2017.

While responding to a 911 call made by Lyles, the officers testify that Lyles lunged at them with a knife, before they then shot Lyles.

After a weeks-long inquest into the shooting, the jury found that the officer’s use of force was reasonable for the situation that they were in.

Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest

“To prosecute the involved officers for any degree of homicide arising from the shooting death of Charleena Lyles, the State would have to disprove justifiable homicide under the “malice” and “good faith” standards. There is no evidence to overcome this defense,” the conclusion from the prosecuting attorney reads.

Because the shooting happened before the passage of Initiative 940 the bar to prove that the officers were acting in “good faith” is much lower than it is today, which asks whether other officers would act in a similar manner in the same situation. The initiative also created requirements for officers to receive de-escalation training and mental health training, two things that attorneys representing Lyles’ family say could have stopped the tragedy.

Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says his office reviewed the information and agrees that the officers who killed Lyles in 2017 did not appear to break the law. Satterberg says there is insufficient evidence to prove the officers acted with malice. However, Satterberg adds that the response to Lyles’ 911 call should never have unfolded in this way in the first place. He says a 911 call resulting in a pregnant mother’s death proves why behavioral health experts should accompany police officers to calls for people in crisis.

“While our legal investigation concluded that we do not have evidence to prove criminal conduct of the involved officers, it also does not mean that the events that unfolded went right – they didn’t. Ms. Lyle’s 9-1-1 call to report a crime resulted in her death, and the entire sequence of events underscores the importance of expanding behavioral health experts who can work alongside police officers when responding to people in crisis,” Satterberg said in a statement.

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King County Prosecutor declines to prosecute cops who killed Lyles