The city of Seattle will pay $ 3.5 million to settle a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the children of a pregnant Black woman who was fatally shot and killed by two white Seattle police officers in 2017.
Karen Koehler, a Seattle attorney who represented Lyles’ estate, said at a news conference Tuesday that the case would go to the King County Superior Court in February before the settlement was reached on Monday, the Seattle Times reported.
“For the family and especially for the children it is a restoration of dignity,” said Koehler about the agreement reached after 13 1/2 hours of mediation talks.
Lyles ‘four children, who are between 5 and 16 years old, are raised in California by Lyles’ aunt Merry Kilpatrick, Koehler said.
Koehler said the settlement said her mother “didn’t do anything that should have led to her death … she shouldn’t have received seven bullets”.
Dan Nolte, a spokesman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, called Lyles’ shooting an undeniable tragedy and said he was glad that the settlement deal brought the parties to some degree.
The Seattle Police Department said in a statement posted online it hoped “this tragic case will continue to drive the momentum toward comprehensive, holistic reform of all systems that meet at the intersection of public health and public safety.”
Seattle police officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew answered Lyles’ apartment in northeast Seattle on June 18, 2017 after Lyles called 911 to report a break-in.
Police said evidence at the scene suggested the 30-year-old had orchestrated a break-in and, according to officials, Lyles suddenly pounced on her with a knife or two before taking her in her kitchen with her nearby children fatally shot.
Lyles’ death sparked protests and outrage, including allegations that the shooting followed a pattern of institutionalized racist police bias.
In the 18 months prior to her death, Lyles – a domestic violence victim with documented mental health problems – called the Seattle police 23 times to drop her.
In his lawsuit, Lyles’ estate argued that officials failed to act sensibly because they failed to use non-lethal force to disarm or subdue them.
Anderson, who was certified to use a taser and required to wear it by Seattle Police Department guidelines, was suspended for two days for not wearing it the day Lyles was killed.
Seattle police determined that their officers acted sensibly in the shooting of Lyles and that a taser request was unlikely to overwhelm them.
In early 2019, a Supreme Court judge dismissed the wrongful death suit and agreed with Anderson and McNew that under Washington state law, there is a “full defense” in any damage claim for personal injury or wrongful death if the person is injured or killed is at that point a crime has been committed and that the crime was an immediate cause of injury or death.
But a state appeals court with three judges overturned the trial judge in February 2021 after attorneys representing Lyles’ estate presented opinions from three experts.
The first expert said the officers’ use of firearms was inappropriate and contrary to the Seattle Police Department’s de-escalation guidelines; the second said Lyles’ death could have been prevented if Anderson had worn his taser; and the third said Lyles was in a psychotic state and was therefore unable to develop the intention of attacking the officers.
The Lyles ‘family said they will next move on to an investigation into Lyles’ death. In July, King County’s executive Dow Constantine signed an order allowing the investigation into any death in which law enforcement is involved after a three-year legal battle over changes that affect the process for the families to make the people killed by the police fairer.
Speaking at the news conference on Tuesday, Katrina Johnson, who appeared like other Zoom family members, said the family was forever traumatized by the death of her cousin but thanked the community for continuing to support police reform in protests against social justice ” Charleena’s name lifts ”.
Johnson and other family members said they would like to see officers prosecuted for the fatal shooting.
But Lyles’ death came before lawmakers and voters passed Initiative 940 in 2018, which removed a long-standing standard that required prosecutors to prove that officials acted with malice and a lack of good faith. This standard made it almost impossible to prove negligence in fatal shootings by police officers.