Baltimore Judge Overturns $38 Million Award Given to Family of 23-Year-Old Woman Who Was Fatally Shot by Police in 2016

Still from a cellphone video shows Korryn Gaines talking to police through the phone at around 1:41 p.m. during the standoff with police on August 1, 2016. (HANDOUT / HANDOUT)

A Baltimore County judge has overturned the decision of a jury that awarded more than $38 million to the family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old Randallstown woman who was shot and killed by county police in 2016.

Judge Mickey J. Norman dismissed the family’s claims against the county and the officer who fatally shot Gaines. The case drew attention from across the country, and the jury’s award was one of the largest ever against a Baltimore-area police force.

County officials declined to comment Friday. Norman’s decision came in response to post-trial motions filed by the county’s attorneys.

J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for Gaines’ family, said they plan to appeal.

“It’s devastating to a certain extent, but they’re a very faithful family,” he said. “It’s not over.”

Norman presided over the civil trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court last year. His new decision comes almost a year after jurors found that the first shot fired by Cpl. Royce Ruby at Gaines — killing her and injuring her then-5-year-old son, Kodi — was not reasonable and therefore violated their civil rights under state and federal statutes.

In a nearly 80-page ruling, dated Thursday and obtained late Friday by The Sun, Norman found that Ruby was entitled to qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement and government officials from civil liability when carrying out their duties.

Norman, who is a former state trooper, wrote that Ruby’s actions were “objectively reasonable” and did not violate Gaines’ Fourth Amendment right against unlawful seizure, as her family had claimed.

Ruby shot Gaines following an hours-long standoff at her apartment, also hitting Kodi in the face. The judge wrote in his opinion that Gaines, who was armed with a shotgun, “abruptly moved from a place plainly visible in the living room to partial concealment behind a kitchen wall.

“The physical evidence is that she began to raise the shotgun, Corporal Ruby believed she was about to fire the shotgun,” which could have injured members of his team stationed in the hallway, Norman wrote. “Corporal Ruby was not required to be absolutely sure of the nature and extent of the threat Gaines posed.”

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SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun, Alison Knezevich

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