A Baltimore County judge has overturned the decision of a jury that awarded more than $38 million to the family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old mother of two who was fatally shot by county police in 2016.
The case drew international attention and the jury’s award was one of the largest ever against a Baltimore-area police force. But Judge Mickey J. Norman has dismissed the family’s claims against the county and the officer who fatally shot Gaines.
Norman ruled last week that Cpl. Royce Ruby was “objectively reasonable” when he shot the young woman in 2016 during an hours-long standoff at her apartment after she failed to appear in court on separate counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The judge noted that Gaines, who was armed with a shotgun, “abruptly moved from a place plainly visible in the living room to partial concealment behind a kitchen wall.
“The physical evidence is that she began to raise the shotgun, Corporal Ruby believed she was about to fire the shotgun,” which could have injured members of his team stationed in the hallway, Norman wrote. “Corporal Ruby was not required to be absolutely sure of the nature and extent of the threat Gaines posed.”
In February 2018, a Baltimore County jury ruled that Ruby violated the civil rights of both Gaines and her then-5-year-old son, Kodi, who was also injured during the incident.
Judge Norman presided over the civil trial last year, and his recent ruling “found that Ruby was entitled to qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement and government officials from civil liability when carrying out their duties,” per baltimoresun.com.
Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for Gaines’ family, said they plan to appeal.
“It’s devastating to a certain extent, but they’re a very faithful family,” he said. “It’s not over.”
A jury initially awarded Kodi about $35 million, and his sister, Karsyn, was awarded about $4.5 million. Gaines’ parents and her estate received about $300,000 each.
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