Baltimore, MD – A jury awarded more than $37 million in damages to the family of a shotgun-wielding woman who was fatally shot by police as she used her 5-year-old son as a human shield.
The lawsuit alleged that Baltimore County Corporal Royce Ruby acted unreasonably when he fired on Korryn Gaines, 23, after a six-hour standoff in her Randallstown apartment, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The jury of six women awarded over $32 million to Gaines’s son, Kodi, and $4.5 million to her daughter, Karsyn. Gaines’ parents will receive a combined $607,000, and her estate was awarded an additional $300,000, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The incident occurred on Aug. 1, 2016, when officers went to Gaines’ apartment to serve warrants on her and her fiancé, 39-year-old Kareem Courtney, at approximately 9 a.m.
The couple refused to open the door, and officers ultimately forced entry with warrants, prosecutors said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Immediately upon entering the apartment, the first officer was “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him,” Assistant County Attorney James Ruckle said.
Gaines live-streamed herself holding the weapon during the confrontation on Facebook, according to the Owings Mills Patch.
Courtney exited the apartment with Karsyn, who was an infant at the time, but Gaines kept Kodi inside the apartment and refused to leave.
The ensuing standoff lasted for approximately six hours, and Cpl. Ruby – who was an officer at the time – remained positioned outside the doorway of the apartment unit.
“...there were times when Ms. Gaines spoke calmly and others where she screamed and acted irrationally,” State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger wrote of his investigative findings in 2016, according to the Owings Mills Patch.
“She stated that the police were the devils, that they were crazy, that she had been unjustly kidnapped by the police, that the government had kidnapped her fiancé, 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, and it would be worth it as [long as] she took at least one of the officers with her, that she was absolutely not coming out..." Shellenberger wrote.
At times, the armed woman positioned herself behind her young son, using him as a human barrier between herself and the officers.
“What parent puts their kid in front of a shotgun? What parent puts their kid in that kind of unsafe position?” Ruckle asked during the closing arguments, according to the Baltimore Sun.
During the standoff, Cpl. Ruby saw Kodi move into the kitchen area, followed by his mother. The corporal then saw Gaines’ braids – and the shotgun barrel she was raising above a wall.
She then pointed her weapon at Cpl. Ruby, the Owings Mills Patch reported.
“He was a dead man if he didn’t fire. Dead,” Ruckle told the jury, according to The Baltimore Sun.
From the doorway, Cpl. Ruby fired his weapon through a wall in the area where he believed Gaines was standing. He said he also intentionally fired at a height that would be taller than Kodi, just in case the boy was standing close to her.
Police said that Gaines fired two rounds from the shotgun, but no officers were struck, the Owings Mills Patch reported.
Kodi was shot in the left cheek by one of Cpl. Ruby’s bullets. Gaines was fatally wounded.
In September of 2016, Shellenberger determined that Cpl. Ruby’s use of deadly force was justified, and that no criminal charges were warranted, the Owings Mills Patch reported.