In closing arguments, lawyers for Korryn Gaines' family ask $42M in Baltimore County police shooting

Lawyers representing the family of Korryn Gaines, who was fatally shot by a Baltimore County police officer in 2016 during a six-hour standoff, told the jury in their civil case Thursday that they are seeking more than $42 million in damages.

For most of the day in Baltimore County Circuit Court, a trio of lawyers representing Gaines’ family presented closing arguments in the case, scrutinizing the events on Aug. 1, 2016, that started with officers attempting to serve warrants and ended six hours later with county Officer Royce Ruby shooting at Gaines, killing her and wounding her son.

Kodi Gaines, who was 5 when he saw his mother killed, deserves more than $32 million in compensation, attorney Kenneth Ravenell told the jury of six women.

Ravenell said the boy will suffer “a lifetime of mental anguish” from dealing with the emotional and physical trauma of losing his mother and suffering injuries.

Lawyers made a case for damages of more than $10 million combined for the rest of the family: $2.6 million for the estate; $3.38 million for Gaines’ daughter, Karsyn Courtney; $2.08 million for her mother, Rhanda Dormeus; and $2.23 million for her father, Ryan Gaines Sr.

“They destroyed this family,” said J. Wyndal Gordon, who represents some of the family members. “This family will never be the same.”

Lawyers for the family also urged the jury to consider punitive damages against Ruby and the Baltimore County government, but did not suggest dollar amounts.

Attorneys representing the county and Ruby, who now holds the rank of corporal, will give closing statements Friday. During the trial, they’ve worked to establish that Gaines, who was armed with a shotgun during the standoff, presented an imminent threat to Ruby and the other officers.

That morning, two Baltimore County Police officers went to Gaines’ Randallstown apartment to serve a warrant on her for failing to appear in court in a traffic case, and to serve another warrant on her fiance regarding an alleged assault.

The fiance left with Karsyn, while Gaines stayed in the apartment with Kodi. The standoff ensued, some of which Gaines broadcast on social media until police had her accounts shut down.

It ended when Ruby fired his gun once. The officer has testified he saw the barrel of Gaines’ gun rise.

“There was no choice,” Ruby testified during Monday’s court proceedings. “Officers were going to die if I didn’t take that shot.”

The bullet from Ruby’s weapon went through a wall, struck Gaines, hit a refrigerator and struck Kodi, according to testimony in the trial. Ruby went into the apartment and shot Gaines three more times.

Lawyers for Gaines’ family have said Ruby did not reasonably fear for his life or those of other officers. They pointed out inconsistent statements given by officers, including where they were positioned.

Ravenell claimed in his closing statement that the officers had been untruthful. He told the jurors: “They had no problem coming before you day after day and telling you untruth after untruth.

“They knew the officers were safe in the hallway and they didn’t care,” he said. “Ms. Gaines was confined inside her apartment. She wasn’t going to be standing at the door shooting at anyone.”

Gordon also used his closing statement to suggest that Gaines didn’t pose a severe threat to the officers. He said she wore a sundress and had a shotgun, while officers had assault rifles and wore tactical gear including helmets and protective vests.

“Officer Ruby didn’t have any fears. He’s got all his armor,” Gordon said.

Landon White, another attorney for the family, reminded the jury that during most of the standoff, either Gaines or Kodi had filmed the activities — but not when Ruby fired. White suggested Ruby chose to fire when there would be no video of the events. Ruby was not wearing a body camera.

Kodi’s father brought the boy into the courtroom as Ravenell was making his case for millions of dollars in damages for the child. Dressed in a light green dress shirt, Kodi sat quietly at a table next to his father.

When the jury was dismissed for a break, Circuit Judge Mickey Norman called Kodi to the bench. The judge leaned over, spoke to the boy quietly and shook his hand.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
63°