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Jury awards over $37M to family of armed woman slain in standoff

The first officer who entered the apartment was “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him”

Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A jury has awarded more than $37 million in damages to the family of a Maryland woman who was fatally shot by police in 2016 after a six-hour standoff in her apartment.

The jury took several hours to reach its decision in a civil lawsuit filed against the Baltimore County government and police Cpl. Royce Ruby, who shot Korryn Gaines, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday .

The six-women jury found that the first shot, which killed Gaines and wounded her then 5-year-old son, was not reasonable and violated their civil rights under state and federal statutes, according to the newspaper. It said jurors awarded more than $32 million to Kodi in damages, and $4.5 million to his sister Karsyn. The panel awarded about $300,000 apiece to Gaines’ father, mother and to her estate.

Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field issued a statement afterward saying the county was disappointed with the decision and was reviewing all options, including a possible appeal.

Ruby was previously cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the State’s Attorney. He wasn’t charged and has since been promoted.

Jurors heard nearly three weeks of testimony and arguments about the fatal shooting of Aug. 1, 2016.

Assistant County Attorney James S. Ruckle Jr. argued in closing for the defense Friday that Ruby had acted reasonably and out of fear that other officers could be hurt or killed.

He told jurors two officers had tried to serve arrest warrants on Gaines and her fiance that day. When no one would open the apartment door, officers eventually kicked it in, jurors heard. He said the first officer who entered the apartment was “confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him.”

Gaines’ fiance left with their infant daughter. However, Gaines remained with the 5-year-old boy.

Ruckle said Ruby decided to shoot after he saw Gaines’ braids and the barrel of her shotgun rise from behind a wall.

“What Cpl. Ruby was doing was attempting to end, terminate the threat,” Ruckle said.

Kenneth Ravenell, the attorney for Kodi’s father Corey Cunningham, said the youngster didn’t deserve to be shot and then watch his mother die. Ravenell called Ruby’s decision to fire “reckless.”

The case garnered national attention, with some activists citing it as an instance of excessive police force, the newspaper reported.

Gaines’ mother, Rhanda Dormeus, spoke to reporters through tears outside the courthouse.

“This win is for all of my sisters in the movement who have lost their children to police violence,” she said. “Some of them have never received justice, either criminally or civil. I just want to tell them that this win is for them.”

Gaines’ family and attorneys expressed relief that the jury sided with them and found the shooting was wrong, though some said they were frustrated Ruby remains on the police force.