There are many types of crime and violence perpetrated against people of all sexes, sexual orientations, and races. Unfortunately, in places like the United States, police brutality against blacks has become a thing of the past decade. There have been too many cases of police officers shooting and killing blacks. This is not to say that they were all innocent, but it does not make their stories any more palatable. On August 1, 2016, Korryn Gaines was added to the statistics after she was shot and killed by at least one police officer at her home in Randallstown, Maryland.
The 23-year-old mother of two children had already had several run-ins with police officers. The officers had come to her home to serve her with a warrant for a previous traffic violation. However, Gaines was uncooperative and after a six-hour stalemate, the situation quickly moved south, causing at least one police officer to shoot and kill the young mother, injuring her five-year-old son Kodi. Her younger child, a daughter, remained unharmed.
Clips of the stalemate were filmed by Korryn Gaines and posted on social media sites as the situation escalated. However, at the request of the Baltimore County Police Department, Facebook disabled Korryn’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. This brought massive criticism of the social media platform, as the company was accused of being involved in the filming.
Things To Know About The Shooting of Korryn Gaines
1. Korryn Gaines’s Background and Incidents Leading up to her Shooting
Gaines worked as a hairdresser in Randallstown, where she lived and raised her two children. Her mother, Rhonda Dormeus, is a registered nurse, while her father, Ryan Gaines, ironically worked as a dispatcher for the police. The victim has two surviving siblings, a brother and a sister, both older than her. The hairdresser left Morgan State University after she found out she was pregnant and took a job to support herself and her child. According to police reports, Korryn Shandawn Gaines had a record. She had previously been charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
2. It was Initially All About Driving without a License Plate
This incident occurred in March 2016, when Korryn was stopped for driving her vehicle without a license plate. Instead of a license plate, she had a cardboard license plate with an inscription threatening whoever tried to stop her, claiming that her right to travel was a natural right and freedom. When she refused to get out of the vehicle, the officer who stopped her threatened her with a Taser. She was later admitted, and according to her, she was kept in isolation for two days. After her release, she posted videos of the encounter on Instagram.
When she did not appear at her hearing on the charges against her, the court issued an arrest warrant against her. This was the same day that she was killed. A Washington Post report, confirmed by Gaines’ lawyer, claimed that her aggressive behavior was due to lead paint poisoning of the houses she had previously lived in. Her lawyer claimed that this led to neurological impairment and the loss of important IQ points.
3. Korryn Gaines was Shot and Killed at her Maryland Home on 1st August 2016
When the police officers tried to serve her warrant on Korryn Gaines, she did not open the door for them. Eventually, they let themselves in with a key from the Lord of the Land. They found her with a Mossberg shotgun in her hand and her five-year-old son Kodi. After several hours, the officers reported that Gaines began threatening her and soon after, she raised her gun as if she was going to shoot.
They opened fire on her and killed her. Her son Kodi was hit by more than one bullet in the arm, leaving him with an elbow injury and bullet fragments in his face. Korry n’s fiance Kareem was also arrested shortly before his release. He had managed to leave the house with Gaines’s one-year-old daughter.
In particular, the Baltimore County Police Department did not request its Mobile Crisis Team during the conflict. The aim of the team is to send a psychiatric clinician to assist the police in responding to people in need of crisis intervention in order to de-escalate the situation. The Baltimore Police Department had also recently launched a body cam program. However, the events of the day were not recorded on any of the police officers’ body cameras, as they did not wear any.
4. Reactions and Protests Following the Shooting
The incident brought with it an avalanche of arguments, protests by little-known and well-known human rights organizations, hashtags in social media, and so on.
The story, which had already become international news, was protested by a myriad of human rights activists. They called on others to join them under the banner of “Say Her Name”, arguing that the murders of black women by the police received less media attention than those of their male colleagues. They revealed that Gaines was the ninth black woman to fall victim to police brutality this year alone.
The Baltimore police revealed that they had received several death threats and decided to violate the standard procedure of disclosing the names of the police officers involved because they feared that people might harm them. Instead, they called for patience while the investigation was conducted.
In Baltimore, local artists gathered to raise money for Gaines’ family. They also organized a vigil in her honor at the entrance to Baltimore City College, where Korryn Gaines graduated in 2010. Vigils were also held in many cities across the country. The NAACP, a historically black legal institution, also intervened around this time, publicly calling on the police to release pertinent information about the incident, including footage from body cameras. They also asked for documents detailing the operational policy for the execution of arrest warrants.
Other notable movements that carried out protests included the Baltimore Block, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, and the People’s Power Assembly.
5. Legal Proceedings and The Result of The Korryn Gaines Case
Just over a month after the incident, the Gaines family filed a wrongful death suit. They accused the officers of shooting and killing Korryn out of impatience over the ongoing stalemate. A few days later it was announced that the officer responsible for the shooting of Gaines would not be charged. This forced the Gaines family to change their complaint. This time they claimed that officers John Dowell and Allen Griffin illegally entered Korry n’s apartment. This was an allegation that the police had previously denied.
However, in February 2018, a jury ruled in favor of the Gaines family. They were awarded over $37 million in damages. This was because they found that the first shot fired by Officer Royce Ruby was not appropriate. This meant that they had violated the civil rights of her and her son. The compensation meant that $32 million went to Kodi and $4.5 million to Korryn’s daughter Karsyn Courtney, while $300,000 each went to Korryn’s parents and another $300,000 to the deceased’s estate.
The Gaines family saw this as a great victory for their fellow mothers who lost their children to police brutality and for the community as a whole. However, the Baltimore court is disappointed with the verdict. District Attorney Mike Field issued a statement expressing his disappointment with the verdict. He also said they would consider their options, one of which was a possible appeal.