A Maryland jury has awarded the family of Korryn Gaines more than $37 million in damages in their civil lawsuit against Baltimore County for the death of Gaines, who was shot to death by a police officer in August 2016.
The six-woman jury found that both Gaines and her son, Kodi—who was injured during the shooting—had their civil rights violated under state and federal statutes because the first shot fired by the officer who killed Gaines was not reasonable, the Baltimore Sun reports.
After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Kodi more than $32 million in damages and awarded his sister, Karsyn, $4.5 million. Gaines’ mother and father were awarded $307,000 and $300,000, respectively, and $300,000 was awarded to the Gaines estate. There were no punitive damages.
According to the Sun, the Gaines family was tearful after the verdict was announced.
On the other side, Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field said in a statement that the county was “disappointed” with the decision and “is reviewing all of its options, including an 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.
Gaines’ family alleged civil rights violations and filed the lawsuit against the county as well as Cpl. Royce Ruby, who fired the deadly shots on Aug. 1, 2016. The suit sought more than $42 million for Gaines’ estate and her survivors.
The jury reached its verdict after nearly three weeks of testimony and legal arguments.
Gaines’ case garnered national attention after videos she broadcast of the standoff went live on social media. Activists cited her shooting as yet another example of police officers using excessive force against black people.
Police officers showed up to Gaines’ apartment at 9 a.m. that fateful day to serve arrest warrants on her and her fiance.
Assistant County Attorney James S. Ruckle Jr. told the jury that when no one would answer the door, officers kicked it in, and the first officer to enter the apartment was “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him.”
While Gaines’ fiance left the apartment with their infant daughter, she remained behind with their 5-year-old son. Gaines, 23, remained inside her Randallstown apartment with tactical officers stationed in the hallway outside for six hours.
Ruby, who would ultimately kill Gaines and injure her young son, was posted just outside her apartment door—which was cracked open.
Ruckle claimed that Ruby was in danger because although he was wearing tactical gear, his arms, legs and face were exposed.
According to Ruckle, Ruby decided to fire into the apartment when he saw Gaines and her son go into the kitchen. The prosecutor said that the officer believed he was firing high enough that he would miss Kodi if he was standing next to his mother.
Ruckle then placed the blame on Gaines for her son getting shot by saying that she allowed him to stand near her while she was holding a gun.
“What parent puts their kid in front of a shotgun? What parent puts their kid in that kind of unsafe position?” he asked.
He also blamed Gaines for her own death.
“Korryn Gaines started it. She’s the one who determined how it was going to end,” Ruckles said.
Ultimately, the jury sided with Gaines and her family.
The settlement will not bring Gaines back. Her life is lost forever. But this jury’s decision does feel like some sort of vindication. No officers were charged in her death.
This settlement may help to bring some amount of closure to her family’s grieving and suffering, and it will help provide for the two children she left behind.
I’ma live forever, my nigga. —Korryn Gaines