IMG_2724.JPG

Hey there.

This website contains a sampling of my journalistic work and media appearances. I hope you see something you like.

How Seattle's criminal justice system failed Charleena Lyles

How Seattle's criminal justice system failed Charleena Lyles

Mic | Published April 24, 2017

By AARON MORRISON, Senior Writer

Charleena Lyles' younger brother, Domico Jones, has an endearing nickname for his sister: "String bean Leen."

"She had four kids come out of her — I still don’t understand how she stayed the same size," he told a few hundred supporters who had gathered for a vigil Tuesday in Seattle to protest yet another police-involved killing of a black person.

The 30-year-old mother’s physical build and her documented history of mental illness made the circumstances of her shooting death by Seattle police on Sunday all the more confusing to the family. How could the officers who killed Lyles see her as a threat after she'd called 911 to report a burglary at her apartment, the family wondered. The petite and reportedly pregnant woman, whose mental illness was known to Seattle police, experienced homelessness and was a victim of domestic violence during her short life.

"What we want to put out there is, if they suspected or knew that there might have been some sort of mental instability, for whatever reason, why didn’t they send officers who were trained with that type of information?" Andre Taylor, a spokesperson for the Lyles family, said in a phone interview.

In Seattle, Lyles' death puts her at the intersection of several social justice issues. Excessive uses of force by officers, the over-reliance on prisons and jails to deal with women who experience mental health instabilities and a lack of adequate treatment are among the most persistent problems, advocates say. For nearly five years, Seattle has tried to address some of these issues — the city is under a federal order to retrain its police force and address a pattern of brutality against subjects who exhibit serious psychological distress. But Lyles' case suggests these efforts are falling short, as have similar efforts in criminal justice systems around the country.

"She was a powerful lady," Tiffany Rogers, Lyles' younger sister, said tearfully at the vigil. "I would have never thought in a million years that it would have happened to my sister."

To read the full story, click here.

Terence Crutcher, a catalyst for police reform

Terence Crutcher, a catalyst for police reform

Vanita Gupta, the DOJ's Civil Rights warrior

Vanita Gupta, the DOJ's Civil Rights warrior