Judge Overturns $38M Award for Baltimore Family

A judge sides with police and cites 'civil liability'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2019 4:15 PM CST
Judge Overturns $38M Award for Baltimore Family
Rhanda Dormeus, the mother of Korryn Gaines, speaks to the media on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 in Towson, Md.   (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The family of a woman shot dead by Baltimore police was initially awarded $38 million. Now, that award is zero. A Baltimore County judge cited the doctrine of "civil liability" Thursday in rescinding the award to the family of Korryn Gaines, 23, who was killed during a six-hour standoff with police in 2016, the New York Times reports. "The evidence is clear," writes Judge Mickey Norman, per CNN. "This Court has found that Corporal [Royce] Ruby is entitled to qualified immunity and therefore, his shooting of Gaines was not unlawful." Qualified immunity is a doctrine maintaining that government officials on the job are protected from civil liability as long as they don't violate a person's constitutional rights. And by opening fire, Norman ruled, Ruby was only doing his job.

The standoff began on Aug. 1, 2016, in Randallstown when police serving warrants for Gaines and her boyfriend say they found her with a shotgun and her 5-year-old boy, Kodi. Ruby says he fired when she raised her weapon, and kept firing when it discharged; his bullets wounded Kodi and killed Gaines. Her family disputes that account, saying she didn't raise the gun and officers were protected behind a brick wall. Either way, prosecutors declined to press criminal charges, but a civil trial granted Gaines' family the award. Now Norman has sided with the officer and relied on a doctrine that has raised concerns about police abuse, per the Times. An attorney representing Kodi—who was set to receive nearly $33 million—says they plan to appeal, per the Baltimore Sun. (More police shooting stories.)

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