Police investigate themselves and conclude murdering Charleena Lyles was unavoidable

The Seattle Police Department’s Force Review Board has found the fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles by two officers in June to be reasonable, proportional and within policy, according to sources familiar with the decision.

The board’s unanimous vote occurred during a meeting Tuesday that began at 9 a.m. and lasted until about 5 p.m., said one source with direct knowledge of the proceeding.

The findings are subject to final approval from Assistant Chief Lesley Cordner, who presided over the meeting and oversees the department’s Compliance and Professional Standards Bureau, the source said.

Corey Guilmette, an attorney representing Lyles’ family, issued a statement Wednesday night, saying, “We cannot accept that Charleena Lyles’ killing was unavoidable. If her killing was within policy and training, we need changes in policy and training.”

Lyles, a 30-year-old African-American mother of four, was shot seven times by Officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson on June 18 after she called 911 to report a burglary at her Northeast Seattle apartment. Police said Lyles suddenly threatened the officers inside the apartment with one or two knives before they opened fire.

The officers found no evidence of a burglary, according to police.

The shooting unleashed a storm of public protest, with many seeing it as another example of unnecessary deadly force being used by police against people of color. Lyles’ family members have said they believe race was a factor. The officers who shot her are white.

The Force Review Board was created as part of a 2012 consent decree between the city and the U.S. Justice Department to address excessive force and biased policing in the Police Department. It replaced the Firearms Review Board, which had been criticized over the depth of its work.

In Tuesday’s review, the board, consisting of about 15 members of the department, found the officers used proper tactics and decision-making, followed their training and did not violate policies regarding de-escalation and crisis-intervention training, according to the sources.

The findings will be documented in a written report, which will articulate the basis for the conclusions.