Statement from Karen Koehler

Charleena Lyles’ family rejects the ultimate findings from the inquest jury today.  During the 7 days of the inquest proceeding a solid and unflinching blue wall justified each and every action of its officers.  The process focused only on the officers’ states of mind.  Not on Ms. Lyles.  Despite requests for a fuller picture to be presented – including a forensic expert on the topic of her mental health – the scope was strictly narrowed.  Ms. Lyles mental health was deemed irrelevant except for what the officers knew about her – which was not much at all.

 The family does not blame the jury for its decision.  SPD’s policies practices and procedures are designed specifically to allow an officer to shoot and kill a person in mental crisis with a pairing knife.  In those circumstances officers are not trained to disarm.   They are not trained to wound.  They are trained to shoot to kill.  The message is clear: if a person is in a mental health crisis and has any type of sharp edged instrument, tool or weapon – do not expect them to survive if 911 is called in Seattle.

Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four children with three at home, called the police for help, went into mental crisis and was shot dead.  The findings of the inquest are nothing for the SPD to be proud about.

Every case is different and results depend on their specific circumstances. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.