A Pregnant Black Mom Named Charleena Lyles Called The Police For Help. Then, They Shot Her

by Brianna Kirkham

A pregnant black mom of four was shot by two police officers Sunday morning in her Seattle apartment, where three of her children also were. The victim, Charleena Lyles, reported a burglary, and after Seattle police arrived at her home, she was holding a knife, according to the Seattle Times. In an audio recording released from the police department, the situation was calm at first, but suddenly escalated before several gunshots were fired.

Lyles’ apartment complex is a residential facility to help people transition from homelessness. She had a history of mental illness, her family told the Times, and the Seattle Police Department had been to her home before and were aware of her illness.

Her family also said they believe her death was racially motivated. The police department did not release the names of the officers, but said one has been on the force for 11 years and the other was “newer.” They were both white.

Lyles’ downstairs neighbor told The Stranger that she heard gunshots, and afterward police officers handed her two of Lyles’ children. One of them told her, “They shot my mom.”

This incident adds to the growing trend of police officers targeting both people of color and the mentally ill. Following Lyles’ death, 100 of her friends and family gathered outside of her apartment for a vigil.

Activists on social media have been calling attention to her death with the hashtags #CharleenaLyles and #SheHasAName. Her GoFundMe page has raised almost $20,000.


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