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Saturday, June 24, 2017


Charleena Lyles called police because she thought somebody broke into her home. Mentally ill and pregnant, police shot and killed her in a home full of children. Police are, once again, stating that they were just defending themselves.

According to her family and police records, Ms. Lyles wrestled with significant mental health issues. An audiotape reveals officers discussing her police and mental health history immediately before the shooting. 
Seattle Police Department officers had been called to her residence more than 20 times before this Sunday, with mental illness often figuring in those encounters. 
The department had placed an officer caution on her address for this reason, meaning officers should be on alert for dangerous behavior from her. 
When I was a kid in grade school, the teacher told us what policemen did for a living. One of the things the white teacher said is "The policeman is  your friend." Having seen footage of police with black civil rights protesters, I knew the policeman was not MY friend.

But when I was little I thought it was the old people with old views that were bad. I thought my generation was going to be so much better because we saw each other day to day and knew each other. That was before I realized that little white Suzie and I could be looking at the very same event at the very same time and be seeing totally different things. 

I cried because I saw innocent people peaceful requesting their rights as U.S. citizens being attacked by white police officers. Little white Suzie cried right beside me wondering why black people won't behave so they won't have to be treated so harshly.

I was in my teens before I realized two people could be sitting side by side and crying over having witnessed two totally different things.

Before I realized little white Suzie was seeing life very differently than I was, all occupations were open to me -- princess, doctor, lawyer, superhero. I had an endless list. Things dropped off as I got older.

When I was a little older and saw a television news report where a police officer followed a suspect into a dark alley, I knew my being a police officer was out of the question. 

There was no way I was going to risk my life in such a direct way for strangers
I realize now that I had no idea that there were a bunch of little white boys sitting all around me thinking something totally different. Such as:  
1) 'I'm going to become a police officer and protect the public. 
'2) 'I'm going to save my own life first before I do anything else...'especially if the person I'm supposed to protect is not of my own tribe.

Cops, mostly white, have been making choice 2 be made over and over again. 

This is why Philando Castile is dead.

I'm not exactly sure this is why Charleena Lyles is dead. But I feel certain that a lack of empathy born of lack of concern for those not of my tribe is at the root.

The shift away from hospital treatment of mental illness was not matched by an offsetting commitment to fund the health care people needed to live on the outside. Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low that it is difficult to find providers who will accept it....  
African-American[s] are at least as likely as white people to experience mental health distress but are half as likely to receive mental health treatment. This helps to explain why it’s easy to recall other high-profile cases of police use of deadly force involving black victims with documented histories of mental illness....
I'm sick and tired of white run newspapers trying to tell us that police officers are simply untrained when it comes to the mentally ill. This may be true. But so what? This is less than 33% of the story most days. 

Charleena Lyles didn't wind up encountering police because her out-of-control behavior drew them when she died. She called the police for help. She called them over and over again for help. 

Maybe something inside her knew she needed help

  • Two Seattle police officers went to an apartment police had been to 20 times before. 
  • Charleena Lyles was known to be mentally ill, so 
  • The Seattle Police marked her address in their system so that police officers would know to expect dangerous behavior from her  

In other words, the local police department marked her address so as to know they should protect themselves but they didn't do it. They put themselves in a situation where they didn't search her, couldn't get back to the door and get out of her space, and wound up shooting their way out --past a small pregnant woman with a knife.

Hard to imagine this happening to say...Charlize Theron, isn't it?

  • If you know a person is mentally ill before you get there, then you know you are going to have to take special precautions to stop her from escalating things --even if you haven't had training to know exactly how to do that.  
  • If you know a person is mentally ill before you get there, then you know that you may wind up having the protect that person from themselves AND yourself too
Police had been to Lyles' home just two weeks before, on June 5th. A police officer had to talk her into giving up a pair of scissors she was using to threaten them.  

The police report of Lyles' June 5 arrest states that she allegedly threatened two police officers with “a pair of extra-long metal shears” while they responded to a domestic violence call she made at her home. The report, written by responding officer Davidson Lim, says both officers were "eight to ten" feet away from Lyles, who was sitting on a couch, and had their weapons drawn to the “low ready position” when he arrived. The suspect, allegedly a former partner of Lyles, according to her lawyer, had already fled. Lyles allegedly told the two officers that they would not be able to leave the room.
At one point, her 4-year-old daughter climbed into her lap. During this time, Lyles allegedly made statements about turning into a wolf and cloning her daughter. Lim says he eventually convinced Lyles to drop the shears and called her family, who later arrived. He arrested her and took her to the King County jail. 
“After talking with Lyles' family, we learned that Lyles has experienced a recent sudden and rapid decline in her mental health,” Lim wrote...
Lyles was talking about turning into a wolf and cloning her daughter. 

1) So how did Lyles still have custody of her children? (Was it just about the money? Not enough medicaid money to put her in a mental health facility where she belongs? Even so, what about her children?) 
This is a sign of total lack of concern for black bodies all by itself. And it's just luck one of the children wasn't shot.
2) And why would an ordinary person, much less a cop, let someone who is mentally ill get between him and the door without searching her -- especially if that mentally ill person had to be talked out of scissors the week before?
The police caution as to be on the look out for dangerous behavior should have stopped this from happening all by itself. 

I think they key to understanding police officers killing the mentally ill is to understand the mindset of the police officer once he reaches a black neighborhood. 

Believe people's actions not their words. 

These police officers are behaving as if protecting their own lives is first and only priority --whenever they encounter a black person. 

- Charleena Lyle
- Philando Castile
- Miriam Carey 

Cowardice born of anti-black stereotypes is the the other 2/3rds of picture when it comes to unintentional murder of black people. The other 1/3 discussed before, the lack of formal training to handle the mentally ill, is compromised further by callousness. 


Seattle Police Flack Talks 

About the Charleena Lyles Shooting 

While Playing Video Games

Incompetence is always made worse by a callous lack of empathy.  And some of that callousness is based on racism and likely classism too. 
For example, do you really believe this "police officers aren't trained" bullsh** would fly if Paris Hilton wound up dead on a the floor because she got high and picked up a kitchen knife...much less is she has some sort of psychological break down?
If you do believe cops would treat Paris Hilton the same way as they treated Charleena Lyles, please do recall that Charlie Sheen was running his white ass around with a machete in public when he was out of control and stoned. The police were called and they did not shoot him.

Things may have gone down exactly the way the Seattle Officers said it did. But they didn't use the precautions they should have to avoid having to shoot a mentally ill pregnant woman who was with her children at the time. 

And if white folks really cared about somebody aside from themselves and their money, in the form of tax dollars, Lyles would have been committed to a mental hospital on June 5th -- two weeks before cops trapped themselves in a mentally ill woman's apartment and wound up having to shoot their way out. 
Despite repeated previous mental health referrals and the involvement of Child Protective Services, she was alone with her children on Sunday, in distress and with nowhere to turn but 911. 
Ms. Lyles’s situation is not unique. People with untreated mental illnesses are disproportionately likely to attract police attention. The combination of mental illness, racial segregation and poverty is particularly likely to result in police contact, often leading to arrest. In fact, a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics study revealed that 24 percent of state prisoners report a history of mental illness... 
What changed over the past half-century is that the United States has seen a stunning decline in resources devoted to public mental health — during the same time the nation adopted mass incarceration
Bullets first and sorrow later is reserved for the mentally ill when bodies are black, especially black female bodies.

We know what happened to Charleena Lyles, give or take a few specifics. Cop just think it was justified when it wasn't. The shooting being justifiable is what we're arguing about. 

These cold-hearted bast*rds, unable to see black people as human, are actually arguing about Lyles being at fault because she filed a false police report...when she thought she turned into a wolf two weeks back.

Charleena Lyles kept calling police because she needed help and attention. She didn't get it. 

So what we're truly arguing about, what we're protesting, is the same thing as always: Black Lives DO Matter.