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The Estate and Children of Charleena Lyles represented through Commissioner Eric Watness, retained our firm to bring a wrongful death action against the City of Seattle and its police department for the shooting death of Charleena Lyles on June 18, 2017. The lawsuit alleged common law negligence and assault.  The City and Officers defended on the basis of immunity under RCW 4.24.420 (the felony defense bar statute), qualified immunity, assumption of risk and discretionary immunity.

 Shortly after the lawsuit was filed two big legal events occurred.  First, this counsel was fined $24,000 for notifying the media that counsel was requesting the court refer the matter to the prosecutors to determine whether perjury charges should be brought against one of the Officers.  Second, the court dismissed the case against the officers as a matter of law dealing a severe blow to the case.  An appeal then followed.

Today the lower court’s rulings were reversed by the Court of Appeals as follows:  1) the officers have a duty to act with reasonable care and here there are disputed facts of whether they did or not; 2) there is a question of fact as to whether Ms. Lyles had the mental capacity to form intent such that the felony defense bar should not apply as a matter of law;

The court let stand due to the existence of disputed facts: 1) the officers’ assertion of qualified immunity; and 2) the claim that Ms. Lyles assumed the risk when she called the police for assistance.

The case by the Estate of Charleena Lyles may now proceed once again.  The entirety of the decision is attached above.


  • Karen Koehler
  • Ed Moore
  • Melanie Nguyen
  • Lisa Benedetti
  • Garth Jones
  • And paralegal Elodie Daquila