A fatal police shooting in Seattle is making headlines over the unusual circumstances: A woman who called 911 Sunday morning to report a burglary ended up being fatally shot by the responding officers, reports the Seattle Times. The woman has been identified as 30-year-old Charleena Lyles. Police say she brandished a knife at the two responding officers, and while family members don't dispute that, they say she was a petite woman with mental health issues. They also say race was a factor: Lyles was black and the officers were white. Three of her children, ages 1, 4, and 11, were home at the time, and relatives say Lyles was several months pregnant with her fifth child. One of her children has Down syndrome. When the call came in about 10am, Seattle police sent two officers to respond, instead of the usual single officer, because of a previous run-in with Lyles.
In fact, KIRO reports that Lyles had just been released from jail on June 14, having been incarcerated about a week on charges of harassment and obstructing a police officer. Details about that incident weren't immediately clear. On Sunday, "officers were confronted by a 30-year-old woman armed with a knife," says the department. "Both officers fired their duty weapons." But family members, who say that Lyles had been struggling over the past year in particular with some kind of mental health trouble, maintain that deadly force wasn't necessary. “Why couldn’t they have Tased her?" asks her sister. "They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down." The shooting is under investigation.