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Five years ago, two Seattle police officers responded to a report of a burglary at an apartment complex. The caller was a 30-year-old Black mother, Charleena Lyles, who had long lived with mental illness and was known to police.
Within minutes, the officers, Jason Anderson and Steven McNew, shot and killed Lyles. They claimed she cornered them in her kitchen, brandishing a small knife. Lyles, who was four months pregnant, was shot seven times as her children watched.
An officer had to pull one of the children off Lyles as medics tried to treat her wounds, the Seattle Times reported.
On Tuesday, after years of delays, the circumstances of Lyles’ death were considered by a seven-member coroner’s jury — a long-promised airing of the circumstances surrounding her death.
The two-week inquest promises to be a stress test of the county’s revised inquest system and only the second time a coroner’s jury has been impaneled in King County since inquests were halted the same year Lyles was killed.
The process was revised and implemented over the objections of several police agencies after officials concluded it was unfair and tilted in favor of law enforcement. Before 2017, no inquest jury had questioned the outcome of a death at the hands of police in decades.