Seattle reaches record $3.5 million settlement with family of black woman killed by police

A lawsuit brought by the family of Charleena Lyles, a 35-year-old mother of four, whose gun was used to kill her, was settled by the city of Seattle, Seattle NBC affiliate KCPQ reported. Attorney Frank Pitre claimed that the amount paid was the largest civil-rights settlement in the city’s history, and that the officers involved in the February 2017 shooting were never fully held accountable.

“They basically said that it was an accident. It was a premeditated act, they said,” Pitre said of the officers’ account of the shooting.

Last month, Officer Cedric Anderson shot Lyles, whom he encountered outside his apartment in south Seattle. Anderson was later found to have a lengthy criminal record, and the police department said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but had passed a screening before applying for and receiving a certification to work as a police officer. Lyles was brandishing a knife, and Anderson told the officers that he feared for his life. A shot was fired, and Lyles died.

A review of the shooting by the King County Medical Examiner concluded that Lyles’ death was a homicide caused by a single gunshot wound, and that it was unintentional. “At all times relevant to the determination of an accidental death, the use of a firearm in conjunction with the alleged behavioral causes of the individual’s behavior at the time of the contact were causal factors,” the medical examiner’s report stated.

The city agreed to the $3.5 million settlement after defense attorneys, according to Pitre, “put a value on it … so there’s no argument about it.”

According to Pitre, the settlement payment will not cover all of Lyles’ financial debt. “She was forced into prostitution,” he said. “A lot of drugs came into play. I think the most egregious of the other guys that she was involved with had a very easy, quick, short life. She had a long, drawn-out, slow, tragic end.”

In response to Pitre’s comments, city attorney Pete Holmes said that the amount of the settlement would be determined by the time court proceedings were finished.

Read the full story at KCPQ.


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