A lawsuit claiming that Baltimore County police used excessive force when they fatally shot Korryn Gaines following a standoff at an apartment in 2016 will move forward, a judge ruled Monday.
Circuit Judge Mickey J. Norman will preside over a civil trial that is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
“Often these cases do not go forward. … We’re very pleased the judge sees merits in the case,” said Kenneth Ravenell, an attorney representing Gaines’ young son, Kodi, who was injured in the shooting.
Gaines’ family and Kodi sued Baltimore County and some of the police officers who were involved in the incident that unfolded at a Randallstown apartment on Aug. 1, 2016, after police went to serve warrants on Gaines and her fiance.
Gaines was wanted for failing to appear in court on charges related to a traffic stop, while her fiance was wanted on an assault charge related to domestic-violence allegations filed by Gaines. The fiance left with the couple’s infant child when police arrived and surrendered to officers, and a six-hour standoff between Gaines and police ensued.
Gaines, who was armed with a shotgun, broadcast some of the incident on social media. Ultimately, police fatally shot Gaines, 23, and wounded Kodi, who was 5 years old at the time.
Officer Royce Ruby Jr., who fired the fatal shots, was not criminally charged after prosecutors ruled the shooting was legally justified.
Gaines’ family and Kodi have claimed that the police used excessive force that violated both Gaines’ and Kodi’s rights.
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The shooting drew national attention amid the increased focus on deadly encounters between people of color and police officers.
During the standoff, Gaines used her phone to communicate with the outside world through text messages, FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, before police asked Facebook and Instagram to temporarily deactivate her accounts. Lawyers argued in their lawsuit that police violated Gaines’ First Amendment rights to free speech by asking the social media companies to shut her accounts down, but Norman excluded that claim from the trial.
Norman also won’t hear arguments over whether police unlawfully entered the apartment.
J. Wyndal Gordon, who represents Gaines’ estate, said he was glad that key elements of the case remain intact after being challenged by lawyers for the county.
“We’re extremely pleased to go forward to trial,” he said. “We will show our best work.”
Jordan V. Watts, an assistant county attorney representing the county government and the police officers, declined to comment.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.