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Five years ago, two Seattle police officers responded to a report of a burglary at an apartment complex. The caller was a 30-year-old black mother, Charleena Lyles, who had been living with a long-term mental illness and was known to police.
Within minutes, officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew shot and killed Lyles. They claimed she cornered them in her kitchen, brandishing a small knife. Lyles, who was four months pregnant, was shot seven times as her children watched.
An officer had to remove one of Lyles’ children as doctors tried to treat his injuries, the Seattle Times reported.
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On Tuesday, after years of delay, the circumstances of Lyles’ death were considered by a seven-member coroner’s jury – a long-promised broadcast of the circumstances surrounding his death.
The two-week inquest promises to be a stress test of the county’s overhauled inquest system and is only the second time a coroner’s jury has been convened in King County since inquests were discontinued the same year that Lyles was killed.
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The process was revised and implemented over objections from several police departments after officials concluded it was unfair and tilted in favor of law enforcement. Prior to 2017, no inquest jury had questioned the outcome of a death at the hands of police in decades.