TELLING STORIES, CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

‘Devil at my door’: Family of Korryn Gaines awarded $37 million in Maryland police shooting

in Politics & Social Justice by

It took a jury of six women less than three hours to rule on Friday that the family of Korryn Gaines will be awarded $37 million in damages for the 2016 police killing of the Baltimore County woman and for wounding her then 5-year-old son, Kodi Gaines, who was struck twice by officer’s gunfire.

The attorney for Gaines’ family, J. Wyndal Gordon said in a press conference following the verdict, “This was a long journey to justice … the jury did their work with a verdict they believe  was fair … this brings about tremendous closure to her family.”

The amount includes money that will go to Gaines’ parents, her sister, and her estate. A bulk of the settlement goes to her son, Kodi, who has struck in the face and then the elbow. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder following the incident, according to a report from the NY Times.

‘Devil at my door.’

Gaines, a 23-year-old mother of two who suffered from mental illness refused to open the door to police officers on August 1. Police say that they were serving misdemeanor warrants on her and her fiancé, Kareem Kiean Courtney.

Gaines failed to appear in court for a traffic stop earlier that summer which resulted in her being forcibly removed from her car and arrested. She was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and a number of traffic violations.

A second warrant for Courtney for domestic violence against Gaines was also to be served. Courtney lived with Gaines along with their 1-year-old daughter and Gaines’ son from a previous relationship.

At some point, Courtney fled their home with their child; however, Gaines’ son stayed with his mother. In a taped video by Gaines’ sister after the incident, Kodi, said that he chose to remain in the apartment with his mother.

Early in her encounter with police, Gaines began posting videos of the standoff on Facebook and Instagram pages. During her recordings, she says, “I ain’t trying to her nobody. I’ve never hurt nobody.”

In several video scenes, Gaines is sitting with a rifle in her lap.

According to the Baltimore Sun’s investigation, Gaines said to a police negotiator in a phone conversation that she did not want to engage with Baltimore County police officers due to her previous experiences with them during the traffic stop. Gaines alleges that her mistreatment by officers led to a miscarriage of twins.

Leading up to her death, both social media were taken by Facebook per the request of law enforcement. Minutes following, she was killed. Later, it was reported that two of her videos were removed.

Police Investigation

Royce Ruby was the officer who fired all four shots leading to Gaines’ death. The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office announced after its investigation of the incident that Officer Ruby’s actions were justified.

During testimony in the Civil suit trial, Ruby said, “Officers were going to die if I didn’t take that shot.”

According to Gordon, Gaines was initially shot through a wall and in the back by Officer Royce Ruby after a six hour standoff. He then shot three more times at close range.

Notes from Kodi’s therapy sessions show that he said his mother went to prepare him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when she was hit by the first bullet. That bullet ricocheted from the mother then hit Kodi. A later bullet to her body would also hit Kodi who was said to be holding onto his mother the second time Ruby shot her.

Korryn Gaines with children, Kodi and Karsyn.

Kodi’s father, Corey Cunningham testified that his son is now “a shell of himself.”

Gordon describes Officer Royce Ruby’s actions “sick, misogynistic and pure evil.” Ruby received a promotion to the rank of corporal since the shooting.

“Royce Ruby was a coward to shoot this single mother of two children who was having a mental breakdown,” said Gordon. “I’m glad the jury saw through all the lies they were told … and were willing to listen to all the fact of the evidence.”

Baltimore County Police expressed disappointment of the decision while legal experts told the Baltimore Sun that it is highly unlikely that the family will receive the full amount.

Healing from Tragedy

Gaines’ mother, Rhanda Dormeus said at the press conference, “I’m not mad at officer Ruby, I don’t have the space in my heart to be mad [be]cause my heart is broken.”

Courtney said, according to the Sun regarding his child, Karsyn, with Gaines, “My daughter’s not going to know her mother.”

Kenneth Ravenell, the attorney for Kodi’s father said, “[Police have] been given a great right. A right to be a police officers, no one requires them to take the job, but when you do it, you have to follow the constitution. You cannot use excessive force. You cannot abuse the citizens. And, you cannot abuse the babies.”

Family members of Gaines agree that there is still much time to heal, but are happy this part of the journey is behind them, for now.

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