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Fatal police shooting of Charleena Lyles turns into legal battle for city of Seattle

SEATTLE – The death of Charleena Lyles is turning into a legal battle for the city of Seattle.

“Even until this day it seems like a dream but she’s gone,” Charleena’s father, Charles Lyles Jr., said Friday.

Charleena’s father filed a claim on Friday, the first step toward a lawsuit over what he considers the wrongful death of his daughter shot by Seattle police.

“We have to look at the kids and how it’s going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” Lyles said.

“Were the actions of the officers lawful and proper?” attorney Ed Moore said.

The family says they are fighting for compensation for Charleena’s four children.

If the case doesn’t get settled, attorneys will have to convince a jury that two police officers used unnecessary deadly force when Charleena allegedly charged at them in her apartment with knives. She has called 911 to report a burglary in her apartment.

Attorneys say the case is more than just what happened during the shooting but they point to the fact that in a six-month period prior to the July shooting, Seattle police were called to Charleena’s apartment 23 times. Fourteen of those calls were domestic calls.

The family says Seattle police should have been well aware of Charleena’s mental instability and that deadly force should have never been used.

“Here they are -- they show up with guns, they don’t have de-escalation tools, the one that had the Taser left it back at the office,” attorney Karen Koehler said.

About two weeks before the incident in which Charleena was killed, the 30-year-old mother of four had called police to her apartment displaying unstable behavior.

“A person in sound mental health doesn’t think that the police are devils and KKK and they can morph into a wolf and clone your daughter,” Koehler said, alluding to past comments attributed to Charleena.

Charleena’s family blames Seattle police for not being prepared when she called 911 to report the burglary.

“She was struggling to improve herself. She was always asking for help,” attorney Travis Jameson said.

“She was a single mother of four struggling by herself. She made sure her kids had Nike shoes, too, you know what I mean? A nice pair of pants,” Lyles said.

The city of Seattle does not comment on open claims.

The city has 60 days to respond to the claim, which could then be filed as a lawsuit.