The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four who was shot and killed in her home by police in 2017.
The case was set to go to trial in February 2022, but the settlement was reached on Monday, according to a news release from the lawyers representing Lyles’ family and estate.
The terms of the settlement include the payment of $3.5 million and the dismissal of officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson from the lawsuit within seven days, according to the news release.
Both police officers responded to Lyles’ apartment in June 2017, after Lyles, 30, called 911 to report a burglary. After an initially calm conversation, the officers said the pregnant mother turned violent, and they shot her after she confronted them with two knives, police said.
On the dashcam audio of the shooting, the officers can be heard saying, “get back,” repeatedly before shots were heard. The officers performed first aid until the fire department arrived, but Lyles was declared dead at the scene.
The dismissal of the remainder of the case against the city now awaits court approval, which “usually takes several months,” the release said.
“It is indisputable that this has been a tragedy, and we are glad to have some level of closure for the parties,” Dan Nolte, a spokesperson for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, said in a statement.
“We stand by the multiple layers of review of this event and are pleased that the officers will be dismissed from the lawsuit. The remaining parties will be mutually seeking judicial approval for a resolution of all claims.”
Attorney Karen Clark, who represents Lyles’ children, said “it has been my honor and privilege to represent the best interests of Charleena Lyles’ four beautiful children.”
“I am thankful that the City has settled this case … her killing should never have happened,” Clark continued. “What happened to Charleena in her own home when she called for help – was a moral outrage. May the City and our community begin the healing process.”
On June 18, 2017, shortly before 9 a.m., Lyles called 911 to report a break-in and told the operator that she had been out and that when she returned her door was open and that “there’s stuff missing” from her home.
Video from her hallway showed Lyles leaving and entering her apartment, but didn’t show anyone else going inside her unit.
The responding officers, identified as McNew and Anderson, can be heard on a dashcam audio recording discussing the previous interaction Lyles had with law enforcement – and the fact that she was the subject of an “officer safety caution.”
They arrived at her apartment knowing of a previous incident she had with police earlier in the month. She had been arrested and charged with obstruction of a public officer and harassment of a law enforcement officer on June 5. That police report described Lyles as having “armed herself with a pair of extra-long metal shears” and that she had been “threatening the officers.” She was released conditionally on June 14.
Dashcam audio reveals that the encounter between the officers and Lyles started calmly. She tells them she left her door unlocked while she went to the store and that while she was out, her Xbox was stolen.
The officers ask Lyles if she knew who the suspect could be. She says she has no idea. They take down her contact information and confirm what was stolen.
Seconds later, a commotion is heard. A child cries and Lyles is heard cursing at the officers.
“We need help,” an officer says, referring to “a woman with two knives.”’ The officers say “get back” repeatedly, before shots are heard and the audio ends.
Three children were in the apartment at the time of the shooting, police said.