BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. – The family of a Maryland woman who was fatally shot by police in 2016 after a six-hour standoff in her apartment was awarded more than $37 million Friday. This occurred even though the woman was wanted on a warrant and armed with a shotgun at the time of the shooting.
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 State’s Attorney previously cleared Ruby of criminal wrongdoing. He wasn’t charged and has since been promoted.
Jurors heard nearly three weeks of testimony and arguments about the fatal shooting of Aug. 1, 2016.
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, reported Fox News.
Moreover, he told jurors two officers had tried to serve arrest warrants on Gaines and her fiancé that day. When no one would open the apartment door, officers eventually kicked it in. Furthermore, he said the first officer who entered the apartment was “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him.”
Gaines’ fiancé left with their infant daughter. However, Gaines remained with the 5-year-old boy.
Ruckle said Ruby decided to shoot after he saw Gaines’ braids and the barrel of her shotgun rise from behind a wall.
“What Cpl. Ruby was doing was attempting to end, terminate the threat,” Ruckle said.
The family had filed its civil lawsuit against the Baltimore County government and Ruby, the Baltimore Sun 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.
As a result, it said jurors awarded more than $32 million to Kodi in damages, and $4.5 million to his sister Karsyn. The panel awarded about $300,000 apiece to Gaines’ father, mother and to her estate.
Gasps were heard in the courtroom when the jury forewoman read the decision, the Sun reported.
Jury rules in favor of Korryn Gaines' family, awards them $37M: https://t.co/cipaA6oVKI
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) February 16, 2018
Gaines’ mother, Rhanda Dormeus, made a statement afterward.
“This win is for all of my sisters in the movement who have lost their children to police violence,” she said. “Some of them have never received justice, either criminally or civil. I just want to tell them that this win is for them.”
So a person wanted on a warrant arms herself with a shotgun when the police come to arrest her, and it’s the police who are blamed for the violence?
What a paradox! Earlier this week a former Weirton, W. Va. police officer prevailed in a lawsuit against his agency who terminated him following an incident when he failed to shoot a suicidal man armed with a handgun while another officer fired. Admittedly, the circumstances had different variables, yet one officer is terminated for failing to shoot a person, while another jurisdiction is required to write a check for $37M because an officer actually fired at an armed individual.
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.
Kenneth Ravenell, the attorney for Kodi’s father Corey Cunningham, said the youngster didn’t deserve to be shot and then watch his mother die. Ravenell called Ruby’s decision to fire “reckless.”
The case garnered national attention, with some activists citing it as an instance of excessive police force, the newspaper reported.
That isn’t surprising since law enforcement authorities often find themselves in no win situations. Yet to award $37 million to the family of a wanted suspect who was armed with a shotgun and refusing to surrender will have a chilling impact on cops. On face value it simply doesn’t make sense!
Naturally, Gaines’ family and attorneys expressed relief that the jury sided with them and found the shooting was wrong (in their view), though some said they were frustrated Ruby remains on the job.