Petition statement to be delivered to Dan Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, Martin Luther King, Jr. County, Washington

Justice for Charleena Lyles

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Justice for Charleena Lyles

To be delivered to Dan Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, Martin Luther King, Jr. County, Washington

Petition Statement

We, members of Seattle’s communities of African descent, along with our families, allies, and friends around the world, demand that Martin Luther King, Jr. County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and his staff:

• proceed with charges against Seattle Police Officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew for the murder of Charleena Lyles, regardless of the findings of the coroner’s inquest
• charge these men with murder, and not a lesser charge
• vigorously prosecute them at trial
• immediately schedule an open meeting with our community to discuss your intended process and timeline for holding these men accountable for Charleena Lyles murder
There are currently 317 signatures. NEW goal - We need 400 signatures!

Petition Background

On June 18, 2017, in Seattle, Washington, 4’10” tall, thirty-year-old, mother of four, Charleena Lyles called 911 reporting that she believed someone had burglarized her residence. Seattle Police Officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew were sent to investigate. Moments after they arrived they shot and killed Ms. Lyles in front of her four children. Ms. Lyles weighed less than 100-pounds and was three months pregnant. The officers reported that Ms. Lyles was holding a knife and claimed they felt threatened by that. There was no earnest attempt to negotiate with her first or to pursue non-lethal options (e.g.: taser), there was no option exercised to injure her with a gunshot to the knee or foot. Instead, seven bullets entered her body, including two to her back. There was immediate intent to kill and end her life, not just deter her.

The Prosecuting Attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr. County has jurisdiction over this case and will decide whether or not the officers will be face charges in the murder of Charleena Lyles. Dan Satterberg is the elected County Prosecuting Attorney. We, members of Seattle’s communities of African descent, initiate this petition to Mr. Satterberg demanding he takes swift and decisive action to hold Jason Anderson and Steven McNew accountable in the murder of Charleena Lyles. We invite our families, allies, and friends around the world to sign in solidarity.
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Dear Mr. Satterberg:

We begin by reminding you of statements from your 2016 State of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqzFp5C_FCg&index=3&list=PLKgFT3iD4B6ljswxnHfqF8sIUDf0-Zu-9). You stated:
• the core mission of your Office is “to do justice” and, “when someone has done something to harm the community, to hold them accountable.”
• the core function of your Office is accountability
• you and your staff are committed to partner with the community to define what the term ‘justice’ means in the context of the present
• it is your Office’s responsibility to hold a person accountable for harm they do to the community and reduce the impact that person is going to have on the community in the future.
• all of society’s most complicated issues come to your doorstep.
• prosecutors can either see their function to defend the status quo, or as agents of reform. Being a leader requires being an agent for reform.
• just because wisdom is slow to arrive doesn’t mean you should ignore it when it does.
• being a part of Martin Luther King, Jr. County “compels us to do extraordinary things, to be inspirational”.
• together, working with the community “we have the power to define justice, to define a system that reflects our best values and aspiration for our kids”.
• around the nation, people are looking to the King County Prosecutor’s Office to see what’s good, what’s possible.
• “We need to build bonds of trust with the community. We need to ask the community ‘what do YOU mean by justice’”.

Based on your assertions, we call on you to take swift and decisive action to hold Jason Anderson and Steven McNew accountable in the murder of Charleena Lyles. These two men relied on the presumed safety of their badges to kill a woman in crisis. Letting them go without grave, life altering, consequences leaves our communities vulnerable to others who hide their violence behind badges.

Our families are being terrorized by police officers who put their safety above the safety of the community, their fear above the security of our citizens. With impunity, they violate their oath to protect and serve us. We are unprotected by our gender, size, disability, vulnerability, or innocence. Our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are routinely and obviously violated without consequence. 4’10” tall, pregnant, Charleena Lyles is just the latest example. Her death destabilizes the already-precarious circumstances of her children. The ripples of her death touch the other families in her immediate community, the children who attend school with her children, every child of a Black parent struggling with poverty, and every Black parent struggling to give their child a sense of agency in their own lives. The cumulative, long-term, impact of this murder undermines all the internal work we do to encourage and inspire one another.

You are aware of the historic inequity in how the law has been applied against our communities. Your office has done important work to undo some of that inequity.

We, as citizens, have given you the duty and power to serve as the guarantor that justice prevails. You have asked us to help you define that word in a present context. Justice, in this case, demands that you will:
• proceed with charges against these men regardless of the findings of the coroner’s inquest
• charge these men with murder, and not a lesser charge
• vigorously prosecute them at trial
• immediately schedule an open meeting with our community to discuss your intended process and timeline for holding these men accountable for Charleena Lyles murder

Justice demands that the consequences of Mr. Anderson’s and Mr. McNew’s actions will be so dire that:
• no officer will take the use of their gun for granted again.
• no officer will ever again shoot someone out of their own fear.
• officers will, instead, hesitate and put their own lives at risk before they decide to kill someone who is, themselves, in crisis.
• officers will understand that they are accountable to all of their fellow citizens.

We are aware that your Office relies on police and sheriffs to carry out your day-to-day work. We realize this puts you and your staff in a difficult position. We ask you not to be bullied but to do the courageous and inspirational thing that Dr. King’s legacy compels.

This is a moment in history where you and your team can show nationwide leadership as agents of reform. In your speech, you urged your staff to connect with their humanness. We call on you and your Office to do just that and thereby restore our belief in the possibility of justice for Black life. Show us that, to you, Black Lives Matter.

We promise you this: we will stand behind you if you do; we will stand against you if you don’t.

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