Attorneys for the family of Korryn Gaines on Tuesday filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Baltimore County and the police officer who shot and killed her.
Surrounded by Gaines' relatives and friends during a news conference at his downtown office, attorney J. Wyndal Gordon said they need answers on what exactly happened the day 23-year-old Gaines was killed at her Randallstown apartment. Her 5-year-old son, Kodi, was also shot and injured.
"The only way we're going to learn them is by filing a lawsuit and conducting depositions," Gordon said.
The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, alleges that the officer who killed Gaines, identified as Officer First Class Ruby, did so "out of his own personal frustration rather than any true fear of a threat to him or others." It also claims the county acted "with deliberate indifference" to Gaines' rights.
Police and county officials declined to comment on the litigation.
According to police, Ruby shot at Gaines after an hours-long standoff because she threatened to kill him and pointed her gun at him. When she fired back, he shot again, they say.
Police went to the apartment the morning of Aug. 1 to serve arrest warrants on Gaines and her fiance. Gaines' warrant was related to a failure to appear in court for charges connected to a March traffic stop.
The Police Department is investigating the shooting. State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger's office is also reviewing the case to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed against the officer.
"If we trusted the government and the Police Department to conduct a proper investigation, then we would've waited" to file a lawsuit, said Gordon, who is representing Gaines' estate along with lawyer Jimmy A. Bell.
The lawsuit alleges that officers' entry into Gaines' apartment was unlawful. Police have previously said they conducted a review of the entry and found the officers entered the apartment legally.
The family also claims that police violated Gaines' rights by asking Facebook to temporarily deactivate her account. She had been posting video of the standoff that day.
Detailed in the lawsuit is the account of Ramone Coleman, the next-door neighbor of Gaines. He says police drilled holes in the walls of his apartment so they could use surveillance equipment to monitor Gaines' movements.
Coleman says he heard Gaines say she would surrender her gun and come out of her apartment if police put their guns down. He also says he heard an officer say "I'm sick of this s— —" before he heard shots fired.
At the news conference, Gaines' cousin Creo Brady said he wants police accountability.
"It's not just us, it's every family member that has suffered the same fate," Brady said. "We are all connected. This is not an isolated incident that just happened in Baltimore County. This is something that's going on nationwide. And nationwide, police reform needs to occur, and people need to be held accountable."