A young black mother shot dead in front of her son
from various sources – Nov 2018
submitted by – Alison Leslie
Updates on this case listed at the foot of this item
On the 1 August 2016 Baltimore County officer, Cpl. Royce Ruby, shot and killed 23-year-old Korryn Gaines in front of her young son, Kodi. The killing took place during a confrontation in Randallstown, a suburb northwest of Baltimore City while police were serving a warrant for her failure to appear in court over a traffic.
When officers kicked open the door to her apartment, they said that they found her waiting with a shotgun. The ensuing six-hour ordeal ended when Ruby opened fire, killing Gaines and injuring Kodi.
Korryn’s death added one more name to the extensive list of Black women killed by police, and for many was another frustrating reminder of differences in application of constitutional rights and police tactics, and that for some in the US, gun ownership is treated as an inalienable right, and for others it’s treated as a justification for deadly force. How is it that armed killers like Dylann Roof and Robert Dear can be taken into police custody without injury, but somehow many black people who haven’t committed a violent crime can’t be.
One commentator on The Medium said; “In the case of Korryn Gaines, who somehow required a squad of Baltimore County Police Officers to deliver a warrant of outstanding penalties to her door (as if she were a serial killer on the run ), the toxic mix of police brutality, gun violence and her frail mental state proved to be a lethal combination with dire consequences.
“Gaines was in her home with her five-year-old son and armed with a gun and the phone she was using to film the unfathomable events as they were unfolding. Portions of the footage ended up on social media and went viral almost immediately. The image of a young mother being threatened by a gang of men , who were inching their way into her home with weapons drawn against her , was a frightening realization.”
Ruby testified that Korryn moved into the kitchen, with only her long braids and shotgun barrel visible. He fired once through a wall, believing she was raising her weapon to a firing position.
Korryn’s mother, Rhanda Dormeus, told reporters that she believed the police were untruthful in testimony describing the shooting and the threat posed by her daughter as follows;
“What we want is constitutional policing. We want them to be fair, we want them to have integrity, and we want justice, and if they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be a part of the police force.”
In 2017 a Baltimore County jury awarded $37 million in damages to the family of Korryn. The six female jurors decided in less than three hours that Cpl. Ruby violated the civil rights of the mother and her son.
Kenneth Ravenell, the legal attorney for Kodi’s father, Corey Cunningham, told the press that damages for the boy will be helpful for a lifetime of counselling and psychological treatment. Bearing witness to his mother’s death has jarred Kodi, his family members and teachers testified. “He’s a shell of himself,” Ravenell said, a once outgoing and happy child now introverted and sullen. It’s sad to see a kid go through this. Hopefully this won’t be something that will change him for life.”
Although the Gaines family were awarded 37-million dollars, they may not see a penny of that award for years. In March 2018 Lawyers representing Korryn’s family filed official court documents requesting that a judge reject attempts of Baltimore County to overturn or reduce the award for damages. attorneys for the county argued that the award was based on “guesswork, speculation and sympathy” rather than the evidence that was presented in court.
Since the incident, the county police department expanded body camera wear for its officers and in 2017 began training for incidents involving people with mental health issues.
In an interview with Tess Raser in Truthout, Korryn’s mother, Rhanda, commented on how her daughter was always an avid reader and outspoken activist, and became more politicized in the wake of the Baltimore police killing of Freddie Gray.
“She always was a little radical, and she was hardcore about certain stuff. She did a lot of research … laws of the land,” Rhanda said. Korryn would not only constantly read, but she would do so with the goal of educating herself and her community members. “And right after Freddie Gray got killed, it amplified because he was a neighbour to us. We used to see him.”
“Just having a piece of Korryn with me all the time soothes my soul,” Rhanda said.
Korryn Gaines : The 6-hour police standoff