The family of Korryn Gaines, the 23-year-old woman who died after being shot by police following an hours-long standoff has filed a lawsuit against the police department.
In a letter sent to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Gaines’ family notified him of plans to sue over the fatal shooting on Aug. 1 by a police officer.
The Baltimore Sun reports that a next door neighbor who witnessed the encounter last month said he heard Gaines say she would surrender if police put their guns down.
“She said, ‘Put your guns down and I’ll put mine down and come out,'” the neighbor, Ramone Coleman said. “They said no. And they said they were not leaving.”
In the letter, which is required by law when someone sues a government agency, Lawyer Jimmy A. Bell said family members intend to file a lawsuit alleging excessive force, suppression of speech, negligence and other claims.
The six-page letter shares a different account of what happened the day Gaines died. It says the Randallstown apartment she inhabited “was involuntarily commandeered by the Baltimore County Police SWAT Unit and used as a command post.”
A spokeswoman for Kamenetz declined to comment on claims made in the document. Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said an internal investigation of the shooting is continuing.
The officer who fatally wounded Gaines has been identified only as Officer First Class Ruby. An agreement that existed prior to the incident between the county and the police union allows only the last name to be released of any officer involved in shootings.
Police say Ruby fired at Gaines after she pointed her gun at him and threatened to kill him. Gaines reportedly shot back and that’s when Ruby delivered the fatal shot. The officer also struck Gaines’ 5-year-old son, Kodi, in the cheek when he shot Gaines.
Initially, officers went to the apartment to serve warrants on Gaines stemming from traffic violations. Her boyfriend was also being served warrants connected to an alleged assault on Gaines.
The letter sent to Kamenetz claimed that police drilled holes in Coleman’s living room, bedroom and bathroom walls to monitor Gaines’ movements with surveillance equipment that “was connected to TV-like monitors in his apartment so they could watch what was going on in her apartment from different angles.”
Coleman said he gave a written statement about what he had witnessed to detectives. He, along with his family moved to another unit in the same complex a few days after the shooting because his wife was too upset to reside there.
The lawsuit will name the county and Officer First Class Ruby as defendants, the notice of intent to sue states. In it, Bell claims Gaines was “illegally and unconstitutionally killed.”
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