The family of Korryn Gaines is speaking out on behalf of the 23-year-old mother of two who was shot to death by Baltimore County police Monday after an hourslong standoff, WBAL-TV reports.
One of the family's biggest questions is why deadly force had to be used in the first place.
"We see hundreds of videos where these people are taken into custody without harm. What was so different in this situation? If they truly felt like something was wrong with her, then address her accordingly," one of Gaines' aunts, Dawn McGee, said.
"She was sitting on the floor. The weapon was on her lap beside her. She didn’t fire until they fired on her," another aunt, Shannon Gaines, added.
Family members said that police had Korryn Gaines' father record a message to her during the negotiations, but they did not know if it was used.
The family is also blasting criticism that appeared online after the incident, accusing Korryn Gaines of using her 5-year-old son as a hostage. The boy was hit during the shooting that left his mother dead.
"He wasn't a hostage. He wasn't a hostage. She would never do that. Before she would hurt her baby, she would jump in front of a bullet for him. She would not hurt her kids, and for them to keep portraying her as that kind of person is awful," Shannon Gaines said.
According to WBAL-TV, there is no police body-camera footage of what happened inside the apartment. Korryn Gaines was recording portions of the incident and posting the video to her Instagram account, until police got Facebook (which owns Instagram) to remove the video from the online platform. The family also took issue with that action, blasting it as an attempt to silence the young mother.
"Because she was broadcasting it to people who cared about her. They had to make her feel alienated, and they had to assassinate her right there with her baby sitting right there, and try to paint it like she's the one that was wrong. She's the one that was crazy. It is not right," Shannon Gaines insisted.
Police said they asked that Korryn Gaines' social media be deactivated because people were egging her on, WBAL-TV reports.
Korryn Gaines had posted to Facebook Monday during the standoff, writing, "Don't tell me what to do. I'm home. Tell those gang members outside door to go away from my home and family."
On Thursday, videos of Korryn Gaines' 5-year-old son started circulating on social media, picturing the child describing what happened in his own words. The boy is seen lying in a bed with his arms bandaged.
"So my mother said, 'Back off' and then she did say, 'Back up.' So the police said 'We is back up' and then they started shooting," the boy can be heard saying.
The family said Korryn Gaines distrusted police after suffering a miscarriage following an arrest in March; she blamed her encounter with law enforcement for the miscarriage.
"So why would she trust them now? Why would she trust once they come into her house that they are not going to hurt her again?" Shannon Gaines asked.
Read more at WBAL-TV.