Despite one delay after another, on day six of the police inquest into the death of Charleena Lyles, one of the officers who fired on the expectant mother finally testified.
Seattle police Officer Jason Anderson answered questions Thursday before a jury in the King County Child and Family Justice Center. Anderson believes he fired four of the seven shots that hit and killed the 30-year-old. He claims he waited until the last possible moment to use lethal force.
"I had drawn my firearm and told Miss Lyles to get back," said Anderson.
Among the first pieces of evidence discussed during Anderson's testimony was dash camera footage from his squad car captured on June 18, 2017. During this video, a conversation between Anderson and fellow responding Officer McNew is audible. Both officers discuss a run-in Lyles had with law enforcement at her Magnuson Park apartment 13 days prior. They acknowledge Lyles' has reported mental health issues.
Minutes later in that same video, screams to "get back," gunshots and then the heartbreaking cry of a baby are heard. Events from five years ago still turn stomachs and draw tears. Officer Jason Anderson recalls that in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, Lyles' young son commented, "You shot my mom."
Lyles' cousin, Katrina Johnson, says the inquest has been a traumatizing process for the family.
"It's hard to look at him cry after he inflicted such pain on my family," said Johnson. "It was hard to sit there."
Anderson claims what started as a cordial conversation inside Lyles' apartment took a violent and unexpected turn. The way the officer remembers it, he was standing in the kitchen about an arm's length away from Lyles and taking down details of the burglary she had called police to report.
"I looked up, glancing at Miss Lyles, and that's when I saw the flash of the knife," said Anderson.
The officer remembers Lyles' stepped back after he instructed her to do so.
"I remember the look on her face of, 'I'm coming to get you,'" said Anderson. "In an instant, her demeanor completely changed."
Anderson testified Lyles then came back and attacked again, then her attention shifted toward Officer McNew.