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Friends and family question use of deadly force against Seattle woman

SEATTLE — Many leaving behind flowers, candles and messages for Charleena Lyles on Monday believe police used unnecessary deadly force on the 30-year-old woman.

Sunday was not the first time police have encountered Charleena, and some say people should reserve judgment until all the facts are out.

“I am still trying to wrap my head around it, it’s very very sad,” Charleena’s friend Alaina Williams said.

Friends say if you knew Charleena you would know she was a struggling mother of three going through some hard times.

“She did everything she could for her kids, she lived for them,” Williams said.

Loved ones are still asking why two police officers used deadly force on Charleena.

“Broke my heart she didn’t deserve that, no she didn’t,” Williams said.

Charleena has a long criminal history; she's been arrested 26 times. The most recent arrest happened June 5 for harassment. In that incident Charleena called police for a domestic dispute and threatened police with scissors.

It took several officers to deescalate the incident earlier this month.

On Sunday, family members rushing to the scene shortly after the shooting were overcome by emotions and anger towards the police.

“Take her to the mental hospital, she has mental health issues,” sister Monika Williams said.

Family members are asking why police didn’t use a stun gun on Charleena instead.

Strangers hearing about Charleena came by with heavy hearts. Nathan Black drove up from Auburn hoping to attend a vigil.

“I show up here today expecting to hold a vigil and it’s empty and it blows my mind,” Black said.

Black says police need to be trained better when it comes to de-escalating crisis situations. It’s something every Seattle police officer is trained on.

“In any case like this, it’s so important to understand the facts of the case before jumping to conclusions,” said Sue Rahr, the former King County sheriff who now  trains officers on using non-lethal force.

She teaches  officers the proper patrol tactics to find cover or an escape when they are attacked.

Although Rahr cannot comment on Charleena’s case, Rahr says no amount of training is enough for some cases.

“There is not a simple standard response to a firearm and simple standard response to a knife. There are so many other things that come into play. If you are in a small confined space, something very unexpected happens, there is almost no time to react,” Rahr said.

Solid Grounds that runs the Sand Point apartment says Charleena lived in a three-bedroom apartment that was 778 square feet.

Solid Grounds released a statement on Monday, which reads in part:

“We don’t know exactly what happened in that time, but we do know this tragedy should not have been the ending.
When people move into Sand Point they are coming from the traumas of homelessness. Many of these residents struggle to overcome multiple barriers to success including domestic violence, language barriers, mental health issues, and addiction.”

The mother of three was pregnant when she was killed.

Her family plans to hold a vigil for Charleena on Tuesday at 6 p.m. outside her apartment in the 6800 block of 62nd Avenue NE.