The Seattle Police department released an audio recording of a fatal shooting where two white police officers shot a pregnant black woman. The shooting has inspired further concerns about police shootings both locally and nation-wide as the United States continues to struggle with the idea of whether certain groups are at risk from police violence.
The Seattle Times uploaded the four-minute long recording on Soundcloud, which as of Tuesday afternoon has over 50,000 listens. A transcript of the conservation was also released, but it still remains somewhat unclear what actually transpired.
The initial contact between the two police officers and the victim, Charleena Lyles, started off cordially as Lyles had contacted the police to report a burglary. Then all of a sudden, the police officers said they need to “get back” and say that there is “a woman with two knives.” Charleena used an expletive and appeared to be advancing towards the officers, who said “Get back” multiple times before opening fire.
Calls for Justice
Lyles had a history of mental disorder and previous interactions with police officers over previous car accidents in the Washington State area, and so may have chosen to attack the police officers for no reason. But her family as well as local and national figures denounced the two police officers for being so quick to pull the trigger as well as shooting her in front of her children.
Seattle’s mayoral election will be in November, and candidates took the moment to talk about the tragedy. Two candidates attended a vigil for Lyles, and multiple candidates talked about the need for greater police accountability, an open investigation, and support for those with mental health problems.
Among other questions was why two male police officers had no other option beyond guns against one woman. The recording has one police officer ask the other to tase her, only for the other to state that he did not have a Taser. The Seattle police did concede that the officers had “less than lethal” options such as a baton or pepper spray at their disposal, though they did not say what.
Both officers are on paid leave as an investigation progresses.