Troubling questions surround the tragic death of Charleena Lyles

There are more questions than answers about Charleena Lyles’ shooting by Seattle police. Under the federal consent decree and years of reforms, the department now has a good process for investigating these types of shootings.

The tragic shooting of Charleena Lyles by Seattle police on Sunday deserves a full, vigorous investigation.

If recent history is a guide, there is reason to hope it will get one. Reforms in the Seattle police have vastly improved the department’s investigations into officers’ use of force. Lyles’ death is a tragedy, and the closely watched investigation will be a stress test of the recent accountability reforms.

Lyles was black, and the Seattle police officers who shot her are white. Both her family, and the officers, deserve a full investigation. Regardless, race in our society remains an indicator of inequality — from vastly disproportionate incarceration rates of black men to lagging graduation rates for black students. African-American communities have good reason to distrust policing.

The public should demand answers to many troubling questions about Lyles’ death. Why was deadly force necessary against a pregnant woman with three children in her apartment? Why did the incident escalate in seconds from a routine interaction to gunfire? Why did at least one of the officers not have a Taser? Did the officers follow their Crisis Intervention Training, which teaches de-escalation strategies?

There are also troubling questions about the human-services system. Just two weeks before her death, Lyles had allegedly threatened police with scissors and voiced apparent delusions while her 4-year-old daughter crawled on her lap, according to a police report.

Was there adequate treatment offered to Lyles for mental-health problems, which her family said were getting worse? When she was in jail earlier this month, did she get evaluated and treated? Washington, after all, is under a federal court…

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