Charleena Lyles loved to sing and dance. She adored her four children. She always smiled, even when facing obstacles.
Friends and family members say the 30-year-old pregnant woman shot and killed by police this week was so much more than authorities’ account of an unstable person who confronted two officers with kitchen knives and had previous run-ins with the law.
The Seattle woman was kind and caring, and “if you met her, you would be drawn in,” said her older sister, Monika Williams.
“I don’t care what she was going through or what anybody was trying to bring on her, she would hit it with a smile,” Williams said.
Authorities noted the shooting happened less than two weeks after Lyles threatened officers with long metal shears, and family members expressed concerns about her mental health after that incident. Lyles also was arrested in 2014 for assault.
Williams described her sister as a strong, independent woman.
Lyles, whom relatives called “Leena,” grew up in Seattle and was largely raising two boys and two girls on her own — including a 4-year girl with Down syndrome — but she had a supportive network of siblings, cousins, aunts and others, Williams said.
“Her whole life was her kids,” said her father, Charles Lyles, who owns an income-tax preparation business and lives in Lancaster, California.
The youngest three children — ages 11, 4 and 1 — were home when Lyles called police Sunday morning to report a burglary.
Before arriving at Lyles’ apartment, the responding officers discussed Lyles’ June 5 encounter with police and noted an “officer safety caution” at the address. Two officers, rather than one, went to the apartment because of her prior history with police.
According to audio recordings released by police, Lyles and the officers can be heard calmly talking about someone taking her video game console.
But a confrontation erupted. There are sounds of rapid movement, the woman yelling “Get ready, (expletive)!” and the police…