Reversal of damages in Korryn Gaines case being sought, despite jury finding of liability

Baltimore County is attempting to get a judge to reject a jury award of damages in the police killing of the mother of two

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Lawyers representing the family of Korryn Gaines, who in 2016 was fatally wounded by Baltimore County police have filed official court documents on Tuesday, requesting that a judge reject attempts of Baltimore County to overturn or reduce the award, the Baltimore Sun reports.

In February, a jury awarded more than $37 million in damages to the family in a civil lawsuit, finding that Cpl. Royce Ruby had acted wrongly when he fired at Gaines and injured her son, Kodi.

But attorneys for the county have argued in post-trial motions that the monetary award for Gaines’ death and her son’s injuries were based on “guesswork, speculation and sympathy” rather than evidence presented in court, according to the Sun. The county has filed an appeal and are seeking a new trial, an overturned verdict or a reduction in the award amount.

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Still, Gaines family attorneys said the county is just using poor legal arguments from the original case and asking the judge to reject the award. “Simply stated, the foundation of Defendants’ argument is that they disagree with the Jury’s verdict,” Kenneth W. Ravenell and Leslie D. Hershfield wrote in their response to the motion. “The verdict returned by the Jury was not excessive or inappropriate and… must not not be disturbed.”

The Winning Team

The jury of six women awarded $32 million to Kodi in damages, and $4.5 million for his sister, Karsyn. Additionally, $300,000 and $307,000, went to Gaines’ father and mother, respectively, and the Gaines estate received $300,000, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field said after the finding that the county was “disappointed” by the decision and would be looking at options for appeal.

“A mother died, a child was unintentionally injured, and police officers were placed in mortal danger. By any account, this was a tragic situation,” Fields said.

The arguments

In February, Assistant County Attorney James S. Ruckle Jr. used his closing statement to walk jurors through the events preceding the shooting. According to Ruckle, when the officers arrived to serve a warrant to Gaines, they were “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him.”

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Although Gaines’ fiancé left with their baby girl, Gaines and her 5-year-old son, Kodi, stayed in the apartment.

Ruckle criticized Gaines for putting Kodi in danger by sometimes allowing the boy to stand in front of her while she still had the shotgun in her lap.

“What parent puts their kid in front of a shotgun? What parent puts their kid in that kind of unsafe position?” Ruckle asked.

Kodi was injured during the incident when Cpl. Royce Ruby fired toward Gaines, aiming above where he believed the boy was.

Gaines is blamed

Ruckle blamed Gaines for her own death for pointing the shotgun at Ruby, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“Korryn Gaines started it. She’s the one who determined how it was going to end,” he said.

He said that Ruby was in danger because his arms, legs, and face were not covered by the protective gear: “The body armor is not the total protection that the plaintiffs want you to believe.”

But Ravenell, who represents Kodi, said that Ruby’s decision to shoot was “reckless.”

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