Los Angeles (AFP) – Police in the western US state of Washington were under scrutiny on Monday after a pregnant woman was fatally shot by officers responding to a burglary call.
Authorities said the 30-year-old victim, identified as Charleena Lyles, had called to report an attempted burglary at her apartment on Sunday morning and pulled a knife on the two officers, who shot and killed her.
There were three children inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said. None were injured.
Family members said Lyles was three months pregnant and struggled with mental health issues.
“Why couldn’t they have tased her?” Monika Williams, Lyles’s sister, told the Seattle Times, referring to the stun gun commonly used by law enforcement.
“They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”
In an audio recording released by authorities on Monday, the officers can be heard speaking with Lyles and shouting “Hey, get back! Get back!” before a volley of gunfire erupts.
Both police officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
Authorities added that the pair “were equipped with less lethal force options, per department policy.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the shooting a “tragedy for all involved” and vowed transparency throughout the probe.
“Our historic police reforms, from de-escalation training to civilian-monitored force review, are in place to address such crises,” he said. “This will be fully investigated.”
The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny by the US Justice Department following a report five years ago that found officers too often used excessive force.
In April, the monitor overseeing court-ordered reforms issued a glowing report saying that the use of force by officers had declined dramatically and hailing the department as a “model of policing for the 21st century.”