Baltimore County has agreed to a $3 million settlement with the family of Korryn Gaines, a Black woman killed by a county police officer in 2016.
“We have remained committed doing right by the family of Korryn Gaines and this resolution is an important step towards closure and healing for our community,” Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. (D) said in a statement Wednesday. “While we have made tremendous progress, we also recognize that more work remains, which is why our administration continues our efforts to rebuild trust, ensure accountable policing, and build a more just future for every resident.”
J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for Gaines’ family, published a press release in The Afro News last Friday confirming that a settlement had been reached.
According to the settlement agreement made available by the county executive’s office Wednesday afternoon, both parties entered into the agreement on July 31.
After the family receives the full $3 million settlement, they will file to dismiss the case in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
The agreement states that the settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the county or involved officers.
Gaines, a mother of two, was shot in the back and killed by Baltimore County Police Officer Royce Ruby on Aug. 1, 2016. Her son Kodi, then 5 years old, was also wounded during the shooting.
According to the ACLU of Maryland, officers arrived at Gaines’ apartment to execute a traffic warrant, obtaining a key from her landlord when no one answered the door. A multi-hour standoff began after she was found inside with a gun. Ruby shot her after he said Gaines aimed her firearm in his direction.
Local prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against Ruby and the shooting of Gaines was ruled justified. Her family sued Baltimore County and all officers involved in a civil lawsuit.
A jury ruled in their favor, awarding them $38 million in damages in 2018. About a year later, Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Mickey J. Norman, a former law enforcement officer, overturned the jury’s decision, saying the police officers involved had qualified immunity.
Under Maryland’s current law, state employees — including law enforcement — are immune from civil liability for offenses that violate the rights of others if the action is within the scope of their duties and was objectively reasonable, or done without malice or gross negligence.
Multiple attempts were made to end the practice of qualified immunity during the major police reform overhaul seen during the 2021 legislative session, but none were successful.
In July 2020, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that Norman improperly set aside the jury’s verdict and remanded the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings, including to finalize the monetary damages the family should be awarded.
The case seeking financial damages for Kodi remains unsettled, attorneys for the Gaines family said this week.
(Editor’s Note: The family of Korryn Gaines is no relation to Maryland Matters Editor Danielle E. Gaines.)