BALTIMORE COUNTY (WJZ)— The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has announced that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer involved in the shooting of a 23-year-old Randallstown woman.
“This office has determined that the officer was justified in shooting Ms. Gaines and the State will take no further action in this case. Criminal charges are not warranted,” said the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office in a press release.
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger met with the family of Korryn Gaines and attorneys on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the investigation into the August 1 shooting involving a Baltimore County police officer.
Gaines’ family and lawyers addressed the media after the meeting and expressed their frustrations with the decision.
“It left me feeling empty, very disappointed,” said Gaines’ mother, Rhanda Dormeus.
“I knew that it was going to be no different when they took away the eyes that she had. They took away the eyes that she was giving to the world,” she said.
Shellenberger gave a detailed account of the tense moments on that August 1 day, when officers went to serve two arrest warrants in the unit block of Sulky Court.
The warrant was on charges stemming from a March 10 traffic stop that included disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
A key obtained by police was used to gain entry into Gaines’ apartment where they initially met her boyfriend, Kareen Courtney, who was later arrested upon leaving his apartment with his 1-year-old daughter.
Shellenberger says Courtney attempted to bring Gaines’ 5-year-old son, Kodi out of the home, but he ran back to his mother inside the apartment.
Courtney told police that Gaines suffered from a mental illness and she had not been taking her medication.
For hours police used several means of communication to end the situation peacefully.
“Ms. Gaines had been sitting on the dining room floor for hours with the shotgun in her lap. For most of that time her son was placed in front of her on the floor. The police officers could see her and she could see them,” said Shellenberger in his statement.
According to Shellenberger, during the barricade Gaines made statements that “police were the devil, that they were crazy, that she had been unjustly kidnapped, that the government had kidnapped her fiance, that the police were only at her apartment because she was black, that when she and her son were dead the news would report it and the world would know.”
Multiple times during the 7-hour standoff police say Gaines raised her shotgun in the firing position toward the officers and threatened to kill them saying, “If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.”
Hundreds watched as the tense moments unfold as Gaines live stream the incident online.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Video posted on social media by Korryn Gaines shows tense moments during a standoff with police. Video showing the shotgun was not filmed during the standoff]
Police, who eventually were able to deactivate her accounts by contacting Facebook, say social media followers were encouraging Gaines not to comply with requests that she surrender peacefully.
“We did reach out to social media authorities to deactivate her account to take it offline in order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process with her and the safety of our personal her child,” said the Baltimore County Police Department during a press conference following the shooting.
Shellenberger said Gaines stopped communicating with officers around 3:24 p.m. and became highly agitated.
Gaines then started moving about the apartment and into the kitchen with her son, again pointing the shotgun toward the officers.
Once in the kitchen, Ms. Gaines had cover and the officers could no longer see what she was doing, Shellenberger said.
Fearing for their safety and the safety of the child, an officer, later identified only as Officer Ruby and Gaines exchanged gunfire ultimately resulting in her death.
“Officer Ruby fired one shot through the kitchen wall at Korryn Gaines,” said Shellenberger. “Ms. Gaines fired the shotgun. Knowing that Ms. Gaines had a pump-action shotgun, Officer Ruby quickly swept into the kitchen as Ms. Gaines was turning the shotgun toward where his team was set up and fired a second round. Ms. Gaines was turning the gun toward Officer Ruby. Fearing for his safety, the officer fired three shots at Ms. Gaines. Based upon all of the circumstances, it is determined that this shooting was justified and the State will take no further action.”
In the shooting, Gaines’ son was also injured in the shootout.
Shellenberger says that Gaines’s son Kodi was struck by an “expanded bullet”, explaining that the bullet had passed through something before striking the child.
As a result of an investigation into the shooting death of Gaines, The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has determined that the shooting was justified and no criminal charges are warranted.
“Ms. Gaines not only pointed a shotgun at police officer when they first entered the apartment, but she pointed a gun at a police officer on numerous occasions,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger tells WJZ.
“They knew from the boyfriend, who had existed the apartment, that she had some health issues, that she had not been taking her medications. She stated ‘we are prepared to die. And when it’s on the national news, it will be good, because we will have taken one of you with us,'” he said.
GAINES FAMILY FILES LAWSUIT
Lawyers for Gaines have filed a wrongful death suit against the department claiming that officers fired the fatal shot at Gaines because they ran out of patience during the seven-hour standoff and not because they feared for their safety.
“She was killed like an animal, and people will be held accountable,” said Gaines’ family lawyer, Jimmy Bell.
The lawsuit filed by attorney J. Wyndal Gordon against the police officer and Baltimore County contends that officers illegally entered Gaines’ apartment after persuading the manager of her apartment complex to give them a key despite the fact that nobody answered the door when officers knocked.
In the statement, the State’s Attorney says “a key was used to open the front door, but officers found an interior chain locking the door.” When officers asked Gaines to open the door she refused, and officers then kicked in the door. Officers saw Gaines had a shotgun and told them to leave, to which they did back out of the apartment.
The suit also says that Gaines’ neighbor, Ramone Coleman, heard Gaines ask to inspect the warrant, but the officers refused. Coleman also said special forces officers “seized” his apartment to use it as an outpost and drilled holes in the living room, bedroom and bathroom walls in order to monitor Gaines’ movements with surveillance equipment. The State’s Attorney contends this move into the neighbors’ apartment was also to ensure the safety of Gaines’ son.
Coleman told the attorneys that he heard a male police officer utter, “I’m sick of this s(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)” before multiple shots were fired.
NAACP SEEKING INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is calling for an independent review of Baltimore County Police Department policies after the shooting death Gaines.
The group wrote to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Tuesday requesting an independent review, saying the fatal shooting of Korryn Gaines by an officer raises questions about policies.
The Baltimore Sun reports that a spokeswoman says Kamenetz directed the police chief to begin “a study of practices and procedures in barricade situations.”
Police have said officers went to Gaines’ apartment to serve a warrant but she was shot after barricading herself inside with her son and pointing a shotgun at officers.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)