Gaines’ neigh­bor de­scribes stand­off

Fam­ily files in­tent to sue over her killing by po­lice

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Alison Kneze­vich

A next-door neigh­bor who wit­nessed the stand­off be­tween Kor­ryn Gaines and Bal­ti­more County po­lice last month says he heard the 23-year-old woman 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 Mon­day. “They said no. And they said they were not leav­ing.”

His ac­count of that day is de­tailed in a let­ter that lawyers for Gaines’ fam­ily sent Mon­day to Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz, no­ti­fy­ing him of plans to sue over the fa­tal shoot­ing of Gaines on Aug. 1 by a po­lice of­fi­cer. Such no­tice is re­quired by law when some­one sues a gov­ern­ment agency.

In the let­ter, lawyer Jimmy A. Bell said fam­ily mem­bers in­tend to file a law­suit al­leg­ing ex­ces­sive force, sup­pres­sion of speech, neg­li­gence and other claims.

“It was ob­vi­ous her life did not mat­ter to [po­lice],” Bell said in an in­ter­view.

The six-page let­ter of­fers a new ac­count of what hap­pened the day

Gaines was killed. It says Cole­man’s Ran­dall­stown apart­ment “was in­vol­un­tar­ily com­man­deered by the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice SWAT Unit and used as a com­mand post.”

County po­lice and a spokes­woman for Kamenetz de­clined to com­ment on claims made in the let­ter. Po­lice spokes­woman Elise Ar­ma­cost said an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the shoot­ing is con­tin­u­ing.

The depart­ment has iden­ti­fied the of­fi­cer who shot Gaines only as Of­fi­cer First Class Ruby. A pre­vi­ous agree­ment be­tween the county and the po­lice union al­lows only the last name to be re­leased of any of­fi­cer in­volved in shoot­ings.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, Ruby fired at Gaines af­ter she threat­ened to kill him and pointed her gun at him. They say Gaines shot back and that Ruby fired again. Ruby also hit Gaines’ 5-year-old son, Kodi, in the cheek when he shot at Gaines.

Of­fi­cers ini­tially went to the apart­ment to serve war­rants on Gaines stem­ming from a traf­fic stop and on her boyfriend in con­nec­tion with an al­leged as­sault on Gaines.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter sent to Kamenetz, 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.” The of­fi­cers, dressed in dark green uni­forms, were car­ry­ing ri­fles, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter.

Cole­man, a 38-year-old bar­ber, told The Bal­ti­more Sun he was home with his 1-year-old daugh­ter the morn­ing of the stand­off when po­lice came to his apart­ment.

Through­out the day, up to eight of­fi­cers at a time were in his home, he said. The po­lice would not let him and his daugh­ter leave, but at one point brought in food for his daugh­ter, he said.

Dozens of of­fi­cers sur­rounded the apart­ment com­plex, he said.

“They were at ev­ery sin­gle win­dow,” he said. “Ev­ery exit, ev­ery win­dow.”

He said that be­fore he heard gun­shots that day, he heard an of­fi­cer say, “I’m sick of this s--t. Put the gun down.”

Cole­man said he gave a writ­ten state­ment about what he wit­nessed to de­tec­tives

He said his fam­ily moved to an­other unit in the same com­plex a few days af­ter the shoot­ing be­cause his wife was so up­set.

“I don’t think she de­served to die like that,” Cole­man said of Gaines. “Hope­fully, we can stop the killing, whether it be from cops or non-cops.”

Gaines had been post­ing online video of the stand­off to social me­dia. County po­lice asked Face­book to tem­po­rar­ily de­ac­ti­vate Gaines’ ac­count, and the com­pany did. Po­lice say they made the re­quest be­cause some of Gaines’ fol­low­ers were en­cour­ag­ing her not to co­op­er­ate with ne­go­tia­tors.

But lawyers for Gaines’ fam­ily say it was a vi­o­la­tion of her rights.

“By block­ing her live stream­ing, the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Depart­ment not only sup­pressed [her] speech un­der the Mary­land Con­sti­tu­tion but also stopped the only in­de­pen­dent vis­ual video record of what was tak­ing place be­fore Of­fi­cer Ruby killed her,” Bell wrote in the let­ter.

The law­suit will name the county and Ruby as de­fen­dants, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter.

In it, Bell says Gaines was “il­le­gally and un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally killed.” The let­ter says po­lice turned away fam­ily mem­bers who wanted to help. It also says the county’s mo­bile cri­sis team, which pairs po­lice of­fi­cers with men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als, did not come to the scene.

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