Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger defended his decision Thursday not to charge the police officer who last month shot Korryn Gaines before a host of skeptical Randallstown residents who demanded to know why more couldn't be done to diffuse the situation before its fatal outcome.
Shellenberger had announced Wednesday he wouldn't charge the officer who shot the 23-year-old Randallstown woman at the end of an hours-long standoff Aug. 1 because she raised and pointed her shotgun at police and that the officer feared for the safety of a fellow officer. The officer has only been identified as Officer First Class Ruby.
A representative from the police department had been scheduled to attend, but did not.
At the Randallstown community center on Thursday evening at a town hall organized by County Councilman Julian Jones, about 50 residents peppered Shellenberger with questions. Why didn't the officers just leave? Why weren't nonlethal alternatives used? Why wasn't a mental health professional brought in?
Shellenberger went into great detail about the standoff, even hanging a large sketch of Gaines' apartment on an easel to illustrate where officers were as they negotiated with her. But he maintained that the shooting was justified. "You can't expect to point a gun at a police officer and not have it end badly," he said.
One resident agreed with Shellenberger's comments, but most residents said they thought more could have been done to prevent the shooting.
Shannon Dawkins, 52, said she wanted to address "the elephant in the room," meaning race.
"I think we need to deal with the systemic pieces of inherent racism that nobody wants to talk about," she said. "I just think that we need to be having real honest conversations about what it means to operate in this skin, because I can't take this skin off."
Ray Moseley, president of the Randallstown chapter of the NAACP, praised Shellenberger for answering questions and said his explanation for not charging the officer was adequate.
"Based on current police policies and practices, I think his explanation was valid," Moseley said. "My concern is we ought to look at those and see what needs to change in those policing policies and practices."