SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department on Friday night released photos of knives, a crime scene sketch and transcripts of police interviews in connection with the fatal police shooting of 30-year-old Charleena Lyles.
Lyles was shot dead inside her apartment on June 18 after police say she confronted two officers with knives. She had called police that morning to report a break-in. Three of her four children were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting.
In the transcripts of the interviews, both officers — Jason Anderson and Steven McNew — said that Lyles seemed to be fine and answering all their questions about her reported break-in and burglary at her apartment, but that suddenly she pulled out knives and her demeanor changed.
McNew said, “Officer Anderson began to discuss the event, uh, the possible burglary with the, uh, the subject. She was answering his questions … she began to describe how she had gone out to the store and she had possibly left the door unlocked, uh, that her XBox and her PlayStation had been taken…
“And then very quickly … a knife gets produced … all of a sudden there’s a knife and she’s got visib-, there’s visible emotion, like you know her face is grimaced … I could see the emotion on her face and she was holding the knife … she was saying something … she said the word ‘Mother….er’ and then I didn’t recall what … I knew I drew my gun. I mean it was the immediate reaction, you know the knife is produced, it’s, it’s the ‘Oh my God’ moment … I was yelling at her to um ‘Stop,’ I believe it was. I, I yelled at her like 3 or 4 times … At that point, I’m behind the bar, separated from Officer Anderson and she’s across from us and she goes back, like she’s gonna throw this knife, uh again, her face just a lot of emotion, a lot of what appeared to be anger, um and she’s got this knife and we’re yelling at her…”
He said at that point she drew her arm back as if she was going to throw the knife.
“So I bent down expecting to, you know, feel this knife any second and I don’t…”
At one point, he realized she had more than one knife.
“I’m stuck in a kitchen where I’ve got 2 feet behind me and there’s nowhere to go and I, I knew she was talking and I thought she said, ‘Come on’ or something like that and she starts closing the gap to where she’s gonna cut off my, my avenue of escape and now I’m 3 feet from someone with 2 knives. And at that point fearing for what was about to happen, what she would do to me, um, being stuck in that spot, I fired by handgun.”
He said he also heard shots being fired from Anderson’s location.
In his interview, Anderson said Lyles had a jacket on and “she had been kinda had her hand in and out of her pocket … I notice that her hand starts moving and I see a flash of a, a knife. The, the blade of the knife, uh, was coming right at my stomach, uh, she was approximately 3 feet from me. Um, uh, I remember saying, ‘What the’, as I was jumping back, uh, kind of sucking my abdomen in trying to avoid getting stabbed in the stomach…
“I was kind of, kind of in, in shock about you know, that she was talking normally and interacting with us normally and then all of a sudden she’s trying to stab me with a knife … Just the look on her face changed completely from when I had been talking to her a second earlier, she was directly focused on me like she was intending to s-, to stab me … I jumped back and drew my duty weapon … at some point we’re saying ‘get back’ … and she did take a step back…”
But he said she started coming forward again where McNew was in a dead end, galley kitchen.
“At that moment I was in, in fear that she was gonna try and kill my partner, um, cause she was going after him … She started turning the corner to go after Steve that’s when I um, that’s when I shot. I remember seeing her fall down to the ground at the end of the counter.”
The last two photos show items that were removed from Charleena Lyles’ pockets. One is the sheath for the knife designated by marker 2 in the diagram. The other is a knife from the front coat pocket that Lyles was wearing at the time.