Family, friends and supporters gathered Monday morning at Seattle’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to play music and recite poetry in honor of the life of Charleena Lyles, the African-American mother of four who was fatally shot by Seattle police last month.
Charles Lyles, Charleena’s father, who said he had been home alone when he heard the news about her killing, was one of more than a dozen people who spoke at the service.
“The police just snatched her from my life, and I want justice,” he said before recounting a story about a birthday when his daughter asked for money as her gift so she could afford to take her children to the movies. “All she lived for was her kids.”
“That was my baby, my heart,” he said. “I’m going to miss her so dearly, man.”
Lyles’ sister, Tiffany, stepped up to the podium and wept.
“She showed me what it was like to be a wonderful mother,” she said. “Gonna miss your smile, your heart, your dancing, your everything.”
Lyles was shot June 18 by two Seattle police offers at her Seattle apartment. She called 911 to report a burglary. Police say she pulled a knife after they responded.
Lyles’ family has questioned why police didn’t use non-deadly force like a Taser. One of the officers, Jason Anderson, had received training to carry a Taser but was not carrying it when he showed up to Lyles’ apartment.
Over and over mourners made references to Lyles’ four children, promising to take care of them. Others asked for prayers.
Lyles was kind, outgoing, a poet. But most of all, her friends and family said, she loved to dance and sing. Those gathered were encouraged to continue to fight for justice and to continue the chant that so many had already sung in the streets: “Say her name!”
But Bishop Curtis Harmon of New Destiny Church in Kent, who described himself as Lyles’ pastor and delivered the eulogy, challenged: “Six months from now will you hear anybody say her name?”