The family of Charleena Lyles has filed a legal claim against the city of Seattle. Lyles, an African American mother of four, was fatally shot by police in June.
This claim is the first step toward bringing a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the Seattle Police Department.
The claim states that Lyles' death was “unnecessary, horrifying and preventable.” It states that the estate of Charleena Lyles, represented by her father, is seeking damages for “civil rights violations, wrongful death, pain and suffering… and the loss of love, affection, care, service, companionship, society, training, and consortium she would have provided to her children.”
Lyles’ father, Charles Lyles, said he’s doing it all for his grandchildren.
"They're young children, they lost their mother, and they're lost. So we've got to look at that. We need to look at those kids and how's it going to affect them for the rest of their lives," he said.
Attorneys representing Charles Lyles have not specified how much they’re seeking in damages, but they say any money awarded will go to Lyles’ children.
Two police officers shot Lyles while responding to a burglary call at her home. The officers say Lyles brandished a knife at them and they feared for their safety.
The claim states their actions were negligent and questions why the officers didn’t have a plan before entering Lyles’ apartment when they knew she had mental health issues.
“When Charleena started waving the knife/knives around the officers completely lost their composure,” the claim reads.
It also contends that Lyles did not pose a significant threat of death or injury to the officers.
Attorneys for the family say they're seeking justice for Lyles and her children, but that their claim and potential lawsuit against the city could have wider impacts, too.
"Change happens two ways: change happens through the ballot box, which I think is what Black Lives Matter is focused on, but what's often lost is that change often times happens through what occurs in the court room," said Travis Jameson
A spokesperson for the city of Seattle said the city doesn't comment on pending claims.
The police department is conducting an internal investigation into the shooting.