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Rally for Korryn Gaines Calls for Criminal Justice, Police Reform

TOWSON, Md. — The family of Korryn Gaines received a more than $30 million settlement in a wrongful death suit against a Baltimore County police officer who killed Gaines five years ago.

The suit, which a jury granted in 2018, continues to linger in county court after various appeals by the county and the family attorneys.

More than 100 people rallied in support of Gaines’ mother, Rhanda Dormeus, and her family Monday at Patriot Plaza in Towson with a message for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.: “write the check.”

“We demand that Johnny O. pay the jury verdict and write the check to [Korryn Gaines’ son] Kodi Gaines,” said Tamika Palmer, mother of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her Louisville home on March 13, 2020. “Five years is too long. We demand justice now.”

Other mothers and loved ones with family members killed by police, along with criminal justice advocates from across Maryland, came to honor Gaines, 23, who was shot and killed by Baltimore County police on Aug. 1, 2016.

According to The Baltimore Sun, a settlement has been reached in the case.

A jury in a wrongful death suit ruled in 2018 for the Gaines family to receive about $38 million, asserting that Officer Roy Ruby showed disregard for human life. Police also shot Gaines’ then 5-year-old son, but he survived his injuries.

The Rev. S. Todd Yeary (left) leads a final chant at an Aug. 2 rally in Towson, Maryland, to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the death of Korryn Gaines, 23, who was shot and killed by police on Aug. 1, 2016. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
The Rev. S. Todd Yeary (left) leads a final chant at an Aug. 2 rally in Towson, Maryland, to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the death of Korryn Gaines, 23, who was shot and killed by police on Aug. 1, 2016. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Judge Mickey J. Norman overturned a jury’s decision in February 2019, but the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, reversed the judge’s ruling in July 2020.

But the appeal remained in limbo in court because Baltimore County prosecutors did not charge Ruby, saying the shooting “was justified.”

Monday’s rally called for state officials to remove qualified immunity in the law for police, which allows officers from facing civil liability while on duty.

In addition, request the U.S. Department of Justice file criminal charges against Ruby.

“Had the legislature in Annapolis passed police reform when we asked them to…Korryn Gaines wouldn’t be dead right now,” said state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City). “The Democrats control the House and the Senate in the state of Maryland. I need you to understand that it’s about so much more than just being here for love.”

Several Prince George’s County residents traveled to Baltimore County, including Marion Gray-Hopkins. County police shot and killed her son, Gary Hopkins Jr., 19, on Nov. 27, 1999, after a dance at a local fire station.

“I knew that I could not allow Gary’s death to be in vain,” said Gray-Hopkins, co-founder and president of the Coalition of Concerned Mothers. “Justice would mean Gary would be standing right here beside me today, so fighting for accountability.”

Dormeus thanked all those who attended for their support, but said judicial and police reform must continue in Annapolis.

“We have to have laws changed,” she said. “We must have police reform. This is a never-ending story.”

PRINCE GEORGE’S REFORM

Dorothy Elliott of Forestville traveled to Towson to show support for Dormeus, but most importantly, she said to push for police reform and accountability.

Four days before the rally, a coalition named after Elliott’s 24-year-old son, Archie Elliott III, held a virtual press conference demanding Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy reopen a 28-year-old case.

Police pulled over Archie Elliott for driving under the influence in District Heights. Police said in 1993 Elliott pointed a gun toward police, so officers fired almost two dozen shots into a patrol car where Elliott sat handcuffed.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (left) listens to speeches at an Aug. 2 rally sitting beside Tamika Palmer, mother of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville in March 2020. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (left) listens to speeches at an Aug. 2 rally sitting beside Tamika Palmer, mother of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville in March 2020. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Jason Abbott, a prince deputy state’s attorney, has said Braveboy’s office reexamined the case from four previous state’s attorneys and conducted an independent investigation.

“Based on that review, there was not sufficient evidence to go forward with charging anyone or to contradict the decision that was made by those four previous administrations who all reviewed this matter,” Abbott said in June. “I think [Elliott family] should know that and take comfort in the fact that the state’s attorney has been at the forefront … [of] police reform, to get transparency in police records.”

Since Braveboy took office in January 2019, about 15 police officers have been prosecuted and convicted.

In the meantime, the coalition also wants the removal of public officials “who protect criminal police” such as Braveboy, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and state officials from Prince George’s in the Maryland General Assembly.

Alsobrooks plans to seek reelection for a second, four-year term next year. All seats for state lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the Senate are open every four years with no term limits.

Elliott’s coalition plans to hold a rally Monday, Aug. 9 in front of the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro. She said one banner will read: “Do elected officials represent the people?”

“You can get all the Black elected officials you want, but if they don’t do anything when they get in office, then they’re no better than some of the white officials that oppressed us…” Dorothy Elliott said. “We don’t need that.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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