Family Files Claim in Charleena Lyles’ Death

The claim says police lost their “composure,” should have had a plan to deal with Lyles’ mental health.

Lawyers representing the estate of Charleena Lyles, the pregnant mother of four killed by Seattle police in June, filed a claim for damages against the City of Seattle Friday—the first step toward a wrongful death lawsuit.

According to the Seattle Times, the six-page claim says the two Seattle police officers “lost their composure” and killed Lyles, who was known to struggle with mental health issues. The officers, Steven McNew and Jason Anderson, were responding to a burglary report made by Lyles from her Sand Point apartment. The claim faults the officers for not planning de-escalation strategies for her “known mental illness” before going into her apartment.

Lyles death prompted protests in Seattle, and has inspired renewed efforts to pass legislation making it easier to prosecute officers who wrongfully kill people in the line of duty.

The officers claim they shot Lyles as she approached them with a knife and refused to put it down. Three of her four children were in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

Also according to the Times, Lyles’ father, Charles Lyles, petitioned and was appointed personal representative for his daughter’s estate. Charles Lyles said unspecified damages won in the suit would go to his daughter’s children.

In a wrinkle, though, following a press conference held by Charles Lyles and his attorneys, another set of attorneys who say they represent the guardians of Charleena Lyles’ children expressed disapproval of the lawsuit. Corey Guilmette and James Bible said in a press release that they were “disappointed that Charles Lyles Jr. did not contact us or our clients before petitioning to become personal representative of Charleena Lyles’s estate and filing a Claim for Damages with the City of Seattle.”

Guilmette identifies himself as the attorney for Tiffany Rogers, Charleena Lyles’ sister and guardian of two of her children; Bible identifies himself as attorney for Francis Butts, guardian of Lyles’ other two children.

“We are seeking to operate in the best interest of four children who tragically lost their mother…We hope that Mr Lyles’s counsel contacts us in the future so we can work together to best represent the children’s interests.”

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