Officer Who Shot Charleena Lyles Suspended For 2 Days For Not Having Taser at Deadly Encounter

A Seattle police officer who did not have his Taser with him when he was involved in the fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles has been suspended for two days without pay for violating department policy.

Interim Police Chief Carmen Best imposed the discipline Friday on Officer Jason Anderson, one of two officers who shot Lyles when, according to the officers, she suddenly pulled one or two knives on them during a June 18 confrontation at a Northeast Seattle apartment.

Anderson, who joined the department in 2015, told investigators the Taser’s battery had stopped working and that he switched to carrying pepper spray along with his regular baton.

In concluding that Anderson violated a department policy requiring officers trained in Taser use to carry one, Best rejected Anderson’s defense that it is implicit in the policy that an officer’s obligation to carry one applies only when the equipment is functional.

“Your complacency in this regard is unacceptable and added an otherwise unnecessary element to an incident already of significant public concern,” Best wrote in her first high-profile disciplinary action since becoming interim chief after former Chief Kathleen O’Toole stepped down at the end of last year.

“The impact of your disregard for this policy on public trust should not be underestimated,” added Best, who is seeking the job as permanent chief for which the city has launched a nationwide search.

Separating the equipment issue from the shooting, Best noted that the disciplinary case didn’t reach a conclusion on whether the outcome would have been different if Anderson was carrying a Taser or whether its use would have been a viable or permissible option.

But Anderson should have taken steps to correct the equipment problem and notify his supervisor and the department’s Taser coordinator that his Taser wasn’t functioning, Best found in a disciplinary report made public Friday.

Lyles, a 30-year-old African-American mother of four, was shot seven times by the officers, who are white, after she called 911 to report a burglary at her apartment.

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.

In a statement Friday night, Corey Guilmette, an attorney for Lyles’ siblings and cousins, said: “It is concerning that Officer Anderson chose not to follow Seattle Police Department policy by failing to carry his Taser. However, it is unclear whether Charleena would be alive today if Officer Anderson had carried his Taser.”

Guilmette noted the department’s Force Review Board found it would be counter to training to rely on a Taser in the circumstances described by officers.

“Until there are changes to policy and training, the same events that led to Charleena’s death could happen tomorrow,” he wrote. “Charleena’s brother, sisters, and cousins expect the police oversight system and City of Seattle elected officials to insist that SPD push harder to find other tactical options for officers in a situation like this.”

The other officer, Steven McNew, who wasn’t assigned a Taser, was carrying a baton.

The Force Review Board’s report, released in December, determined that a Taser — as well as baton or pepper spray — weren’t feasible alternatives during the confrontation with Lyles. The report found the shooting to be reasonable, necessary and proportional and consistent with department training and policy.

The board, which consists of about 15 members, concluded that a Taser was unlikely to be effective, given a success rate of about 50 percent despite “common misperceptions” that Tasers are a “miracle tool.”

For full story visit: