BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old woman who was shot and killed by a Baltimore County Police officer on Aug. 1, plans to sue the county and officer who fired the fatal shot, according to documents from the law offices of Jimmy A. Bell
The family is suing the county and Officer First Class Ruby, a 16-year veteran of the department, for $2 million each, according to the Upper Marlboro-based law firm.
The documents claim that Gaines’s death was wrongful, that police exhibited suppression of speech, excessive force and gross negligence, and they allege that an eyewitness account by Gaines’s next door neighbor, Ramone Coleman, paints a different picture of the day than official police statements.
Police say Gaines was shot after pointing a Mossberg shotgun at officers and threatening to kill them while they were attempting to serve arrest warrants on her and her boyfriend, 39-year-old Kareem Kiean Courtney.
According to BCoPD, officers responded to Gaines’s home in the unit block of Sulky Court that day around 9:20 a.m.
The arrest warrant for Gaines stemmed from a traffic stop that occurred back in March when she was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police were also serving an arrest warrant for Courtney on second degree assault charges.
Upon arrival to the home, police say three officers knocked on the door of the residence but no one answered. Minutes later, after overhearing the voices of a man and woman and a child’s cries coming from inside, officers opened the door using a key obtained from the landlord.
During a news conference the day after the shooting, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said officers could see Gaines sitting on the floor with a child nearby. Johnson says Gaines immediately began wielding the shotgun, bringing it into the ready position and directing at the officers.
Three officers then retreated to the hallway outside and called for backup, according to police.
Johnson says tactical teams surrounded the home and negotiations began with Gaines around 9:40 a.m.
Minutes later, Courtney ran out of the home with a 1-year-old boy and was immediately apprehended. He was arrested on a warrant for second degree assault and was later released.
During the 7-hour stand-off, police say Gaines used social media to broadcast the ongoing situation.
There has been some controversy surrounding the fact that police asked Facebook to deactivate her accounts and remove those videos, but they say her followers were encouraging her not to comply with requests that she surrender peacefully.
The court documents allege that “by blocking her live streaming, the Baltimore County Police Department not only suppressed he speech under the Maryland Constitution but also stopped the only independent visual video record of what was taking place before Officer Ruby killed her.”
At approximately 4 p.m., officers again attempted to negotiate with Gaines — who was still with her 5-year-old son — into surrendering, but police say she refused and pointed the gun at officers multiple times, even threatening to kill them saying, “”If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.”
Johnson says it was at this point that a tactical officer discharged one round toward Gaines, but police do not know if she was struck.
Gaines then returned fire, but no officers were struck.
Officers then fired back, hitting and killing Gaines. When officers went to render aid, they noticed that the 5-year-old boy, Gaines’s son Kodi, was also struck. He sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Coleman, Gaines’s neighbor, says he remembers police arriving to the home between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m., earlier than the department says officers arrived on the scene.
According to the documents, Coleman remembers Gaines telling officers “If you put your guns down and back up from my apartment, I will come out” and says Gaines made a request to inspect a copy of the warrant they were serving, which was denied.
Coleman says police officers turned away members of the Gaines family who “desperately offered and pleaded to help deescalate the situation” and that he heard an officer say, right before the deadly exchange of gunfire, “I’m sick of this s**t.”
The documents allege that the entry into Gaines’s home was unlawful, since they did not have “a reasonable belief that Korryn was home,” nor a search warrant for the residence.
They also say find it problematic that the county’s crisis intervention team was never called in to aid in the standoff.
Read the documents in full HERE.