The family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old woman who was shot and killed by Baltimore police after a tense standoff with officers, is planning to sue over her death.
The suit will be filed against the county and Officer First Class Ruby for the amount of $2 million apiece and alleges that not only was Gaines’ death wrongful but also that officers used excessive force and suppressed her right to free speech.
Police accounts state that Gaines was shot after pointing a shotgun at officers and refusing to come out of her apartment when officers arrived to arrest both her and her boyfriend, 39-year-old Kareem Kiean Courtney.
According to police accounts, officers knocked on the door, but there was no answer. When they heard voices inside the apartment, they opened the door with a key given them by the landlord, at which point, they said, Gaines immediately began to wield the shotgun and threatened to kill them.
Police Chief James Johnson said that the officers then retreated to the hallway and called for backup, and the apartment was surrounded by tactical teams as well as negotiators as the 7-hour standoff began.
Shortly after the standoff began, Courtney ran from the apartment with a 1-year-old child and was quickly apprehended. A 5-year-old child remained in the apartment with Gaines. At one point during the standoff, according to police, Gaines said, ”If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.”
At that point, an officer fired at her. Gaines returned fire, and the other officers fired back, striking and killing Gaines.
However, there is some dispute about this account, especially because Gaines had started to livestream the entire incident on Facebook. Police asked Facebook to deactivate her account and take down the videos of what happened. They claimed that they had done so because her followers were encouraging her not to comply with police, but the documents claims that “by blocking her live streaming, the Baltimore County Police Department not only suppressed her speech under the Maryland Constitution but also stopped the only independent visual video record of what was taking place before Officer Ruby killed her.”
What’s more, Ramone Coleman, a neighbor and eyewitness to the events that took place in August, gives an account that contradicts the police version of events. According to Coleman, Gaines told officers, “If you put your guns down and back up from my apartment, I will come out,” and asked to see the warrant they were serving, though she was denied the request.
Coleman also said that the officers ignored family members who “desperately offered and pleaded to help deescalate the situation.”
The documents state that not only was Gaines’ death unconstitutional but also that officers entered her home without “a reasonable belief that Korryn was home” and without a search warrant.