Korryn Gaines, 23, was fatally shot by a Baltimore County police officer in 2016 after pointing a shotgun at his head. (Baltimore County Police)
The family of a Maryland woman was awarded more than $37 million after being fatally shot by police in 2016 after a six-hour standoff in her apartment.
A six-hour standoff?
The jury took several hours to reach its decision in the case of Korryn Gaines, 23, who was shot by police Cpl. Royce Ruby, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The family had filed its civil lawsuit against the Baltimore County government and Ruby, the newspaper reported.
The jury of six women found that the first shot, which killed Gaines and wounded her then 5-year-old son, Kodi, was not reasonable and violated their civil rights under state and federal statutes, according to the newspaper.
Here’s what happened so that you can understand the situation.
The sequence of events began at about 9 a.m. when two officers went to the apartment to serve arrest warrants on Gaines for not appearing in court on a traffic case and on Courtney for an alleged assault. After no one opened the door, the first officers unlocked it with a key from the apartment complex and later kicked it in to break the security chain.
The first officer who went into the apartment, Officer Allen Griffin III, testified he saw Gaines holding a shotgun and immediately knew the situation was unsafe.
“The barrel was pointed right dead at my chest and my face,” Griffin told jurors. He testified he yelled to his partner: “Gun! Gun! Gun!” and backed out of the apartment. Griffin and other officers took positions outside the door. Griffin’s partner, Cpl. John Dowell, testified that Gaines said she thought the warrant was fraudulent and ordered officers not to come inside.
Gaines had a distrust of police and her family’s lawyers acknowledged she had mental illness that caused her to possibly be detached from reality.
Precinct officers were replaced by Ruby and other officers from the county’s tactical unit. Ruby was stationed just outside the door, which was cracked open a few inches, for most of the day. Ruby testified that in the hours before Gaines’ death, she was seated in the hallway of her apartment, a shotgun on her lap and a cellphone to her ear.
Gaines had broadcast some of the standoff on social media until police succeeded in having her accounts shut down. She used her phone to videotape officers, and sometimes gave the phone to Kodi so he could film.
Eventually, Kodi went into the kitchen and Gaines followed. As Ruby watched, he said he saw her braids and the barrel of her shotgun raise. It was then that he fired from the building’s hallway and through drywall toward where he thought Gaines was, then he entered the apartment and shot Gaines three more times.
“There was no choice,” Ruby testified. “Officers were going to die if I didn’t take that shot.”
Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field issued a statement afterward saying the county was disappointed with the decision and was reviewing all options, including a possible appeal, FOX News reports.
Ruby was previously cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the State’s Attorney. He wasn’t charged and has since been promoted.
Assistant County Attorney James S. Ruckle Jr. argued in closing for the defense Friday that Ruby had acted reasonably and out of fear that other officers could be hurt or killed.
Gaines’ family and attorneys expressed relief that the jury sided with them and found the shooting was wrong, though some said they were frustrated Ruby remains on the police force.