Re­view sought of Bal­ti­more Co. po­lice

NAACP Le­gal De­fense Fund says shoot­ing of Kor­ryn Gaines raises ques­tions

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Ali­son Kneze­vich Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Pamela Wood con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. al­isonk@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/aliknez

The NAACP Le­gal De­fense Fund asked Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz on Tues­day to launch an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the Po­lice Depart­ment’s poli­cies, say­ing the shoot­ing death of Kor­ryn Gaines by an of­fi­cer raises ques­tions about the agency.

In a let­ter to Kamenetz, the de­fense fund’s pres­i­dent, Sher­ri­lyn A. Ifill, said Gaines’ death Aug. 1 and other in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the depart­ment’s use of force “de­mand your full at­ten­tion in or­der to build trust and pub­lic con­fi­dence in the po­lice depart­ment.”

“To date, we have heard no sub­stan­tive pub­lic state­ment from your of­fice re­gard­ing this mat­ter,” Ifill wrote to Kamenetz.

She also asked the county ex­ec­u­tive to meet with com­mu­nity groups to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of a per­ma­nent in­de­pen­dent in­ves­tiga­tive team that would re­view po­lice shoot­ings.

Gaines, 23, was shot and killed by a county tac­ti­cal of­fi­cer after a stand­off at her Ran­dall­stown apart­ment. Her 5-year-old son, Kodi, also was in­jured.

A Kamenetz spokes­woman, Ellen Kobler, said in an email to The Bal­ti­more Sun that he has di­rected Po­lice Chief Jim John­son to be­gin “a study of prac­tices and pro­ce­dures in bar­ri­cade sit­u­a­tions.”

She said the Po­lice Depart­ment gave the Le­gal De­fense Fund doc­u­ments the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­quested.

“We rec­og­nize the need to main­tain pub­lic con­fi­dence and trans­parency through­out this process,” she said.

The let­ter from the civil rights group came as mem­bers of Gaines’ fam­ily pre­pared to meet to­day with county State’s At­tor­ney Scott D. Shel­len­berger to learn the find­ings of the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to lawyers for the fam­ily. Shel­len­berger’s of­fice re­viewed the case to de­ter­mine whether any crim­i­nal charges will be filed against the of­fi­cer.

J. Wyn­dal Gor­don, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Gaines’ es­tate, said the fam­ily’s lawyers do not ex­pect any crim­i­nal charges to be filed.

Shel­len­berger de­clined to com­ment Tues­day, say­ing he wants to meet with the fam­ily be­fore mak­ing any pub­lic state­ments.

In the let­ter to Kamenetz, the Le­gal De­fense Fund asked for a re­view of sev­eral Po­lice Depart­ment poli­cies — in­clud­ing those on use of force, the ex­e­cu­tion of ar­rest war­rants and the de­ploy­ment of cri­sis ne­go­tia­tors.

The group also re­quested in­for­ma­tion on the depart­ment’s body cam­era pro­gram, and “the sub­stance and reg­u­lar­ity of de-es­ca­la­tion train­ing” pro­vided to of­fi­cers.

Po­lice have iden­ti­fied the of­fi­cer whokilled Gaines as Of­fi­cer 1st Class Ruby; un­der depart­ment pol­icy, they re­leased only his last name.

They say that Gaines was armed with a shot­gun and that Ruby shot at her when she pointed the weapon at him and threat­ened to kill him. When Gaines fired back, Ruby shot again, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Of­fi­cers ini­tially went to the apart­ment to serve ar­rest war­rants on Gaines and her fi­ance. Author­i­ties said Gaines had failed to ap­pear in court for charges stem­ming from a March traf­fic stop.

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