Charleena Lyles was an African-American woman with mental health issues. She had an interaction with police officers (who were White, not that it truly matters) in her apartment. And she ended up dead.
According to the Washington Post, 30-year-old Lyles called authorities to report an attempted burglary. Lyles was living at Brettler Family Place, an apartment complex for people transitioning out of homelessness.
On Sunday morning just before 10 a.m., two patrol officers were dispatched to investigate. Normally one officer would respond to such a call, but because of the authorities familiarity with Lyles and her apartment, two were dispatched. Detective Mark Jamieson said, “Two officers were required due to information pertaining to this address that presented an increased risk to officers.”
Part of that reasoning could’ve been Lyles recent arrest. Lyles was arrested June 5th on charges of harassment, obstruction of a public official and harassment of a law enforcement officer. She was released conditionally on June 14th.
The officers were aware that Lyles had mental health issues and children. Per the audio, when they entered her apartment, everything seemed calmed. Lyles explained the break-in and talked with the officers about missing items. Her children can be heard in the background.
Close to the end of the audio the officers are heard screaming get back before firing shots. Listen to it below:
According to the officers’ report, the civil situation changed when Lyles confronted them with a knife. That’s when they made the decision to fire shots; however, Lyles’ family don’t agree with the force the officers used.
“Even if my sister had a knife in her hand, she weighs like nothing, even if she’s soaking wet,” Williams told The Stranger. “There’s no way you could’ve taken a taser and taken her down? There’s no way you could’ve taken a baton and knocked the knife out of her hand?”
The two officers have been placed on paid leave. Please keep the family of Charleena Lyles in your prayers.
Bryant Smith is the founder and owner of The Top Tea.