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Inquest into SPD shooting death of Charleena Lyles begins with pre-conference

SEATTLE – What exactly happened when 30-year-old Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle Police in the summer of 2017? That’s what an inquest into the case hopes to find.

And after all inquests had been on hold for a couple of years they are beginning to resume after a re-tooling.

A pre-hearing happened Tuesday afternoon dealing with Lyles’ case.

The new inquests will try to eliminate the perception that the investigation was to determine if an officer may be justified in a shooting.

Instead, the inquests will look at whether an officer followed procedure and training during an

“It’s hard still not having answers,” said Lyles’ cousin, Katrina Johnson. “We just want the simple, what happened, what led to this? We don’t have those answers. We can’t heal.”

Lawyers for Charleena’s family, the City of Seattle and the two police officers involved in the shooting talked about what kind of evidence could be admitted when the formal inquest begins.

It's evidence that the Lyles family says could give them the answers they seek.

“The fact that there is an inquest at all is a good thing,” said attorney Karen Koehler. “It’s there to shed light.”

Lyles was pregnant and a mother of four when she called the police to report a burglary in the summer of 2017. The responding officers shot and killed her in her home after police claim she charged at them knives.

Lyles’ attorneys asked the administrator to allow video depositions from the two officers who shot and killed her.

“We’ve got the officers testifying and we can’t show it to anyone because it hasn’t been allowed it,” said Koehler.

But attorneys for the officers and SPD asked the administrator to deny the request. Attorneys for SPD have also asked a judge to stay the inquest into Lyles case because there is also a concurrent civil lawsuit against the department by Lyles ‘family.

A decision has yet to come down.

Meanwhile, Lyles family members say they are pleased to be part of the inquest and hope to learn exactly what happened the day she was killed.

“The families will be represented and share story will be heard, it won’t just be their narrative,” said Lyles’ cousin. “That part of it makes us hold on and make us want to fight longer.”

The inquest administrator said an official inquest won’t likely be underway until next year.

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