On 18 June Seattle police shot and killed Charleena Lyles after she reported a burglary. Charleena was pregnant, and was shot in the presence of her three children aged one, four and 11. The police claim when they arrived at her apartment she drew a knife, so they shot her. Audio recordings of the shooting show police started shooting very soon after entering the apartment — 15 seconds after shouting for Charleena to “get back”.
Questions have been asked about why police did not try other approaches before shooting. Charleena’s cousin said, “What is the reason to use such lethal force? There are many ways to subdue someone without shooting them. She’s not big. She’s not intimidating… She called you, and you went to her house and killed her.”
Charleena’s family have said that she suffered from mental health problems, and there is some evidence that police were familiar with Charleena — a warning was placed on her address over “possible risk to officers”.
US police are twice as likely to shoot a black person. And a report by a Massachusetts disability rights organisation concluded that people with an untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to shot by police. The report concludes that the victim’s mental illness is often used to blame them for their own deaths. Charleena should be alive. Her children should still have their mother. She and them are victims of a system that profiles black people and does not care about the lives of those with mental illness.
After students at a primary school in Birmingham wrote to emergency services thanking them for protecting them, police invited them to a training facility. The idea was to show how the police deal with terrorist incidents. But the children were given replica guns and asked to shoot at terrorist targets! If that doesn′t sound morbid enough, the police press-released the trip under the title ″Ready, aim ... smile!″! Parents have understandably been concerned about the trip, arguing that the event made the idea of shooting another human being into a game.