A Baltimore County judge is expected to rule Monday on key issues in a lawsuit brought against Baltimore County by the family of Korryn Gaines, the Randallstown woman killed by a county police officer in 2016.
Circuit Judge Mickey J. Norman heard arguments on several motions related to the case on Friday ahead of the civil trial scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Tactical officer Royce Ruby Jr. shot and killed Gaines, who was 23, and wounded her 5-year-old son in an hours-long standoff at Gaines’ apartment.
Gaines’ family members are suing the county, Ruby and four other police officers. Ruby, now a corporal in the department, and the other officers named in the lawsuit attended the court proceedings Friday.
In 2016, county prosecutors ruled the police shooting was justified and did not criminally charge any officers involved.
The hearing Friday focused on the county’s motion for summary judgment, in which county lawyers say the family’s complaint should be dismissed because a jury would find that Ruby “acted with objective reasonableness under the circumstances at that time.”
That is the central issue in the case, said assistant county attorney James S. Ruckle Jr.
He said Ruby, who was positioned in the hallway outside the apartment, first fired at Gaines through her kitchen wall when she raised her shotgun into a firing position and refused to lower it.
Ruby believed that police officers’ lives were in danger, Ruckle said during Friday’s hearing.
Attorneys for the Gaines family dispute that she was pointing her gun at police when she was shot. Attorney Kenneth Ravenell, who represents Gaines’ son, Kodi, in the lawsuit, told Norman that there are a number of other contested points that a jury must decide at trial.
For instance, Ravenell noted that Ruby has said that he feared for the safety of an officer — who was referred to in court only by his last name, Callahan — in the hallway. But other officers testified in depositions that Callahan was not in the position Ruby described, Ravenell said.
Ravenell also said a jury could conclude that Ruby’s actions were not reasonable because of the risks to Kodi, who was in the kitchen with his mother when Ruby shot through the kitchen wall.
A spokesman for the county Police Department said the agency would not comment on the pending litigation.