Rhanda Dormeus, mother of Korryn Gaines, stands with family attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, at a press conference Sept. 21. Gordon negotiated a deal that respects the humanity of Korryn Gaines while recognizing the challenges in the law due to the legislatively imposed limitations on damages. (Photo by Briahnna Brown)
J. Wyndal Gordon
Special to the AFRO
August 1 will mark five years since Korryn Gaines, the 23-year old mother of two, was gunned down from the back in her Randallstown apartment by Baltimore County police officer Cpl. Royce Ruby, while preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her five-year old son Kodi. Ruby also shot Kodi in the face and arm as Kodi witnessed him slay his mother. Korryn’s killing was ruled a homicide by the State medical examiner. He was never criminally or administratively held accountable for his actions by Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, or the Baltimore County police department, respectively.
Ruby’s heinous actions left the Gaines family shattered and her minor son permanently injured physically and emotionally. Korryn Gaines was a loving mother, fiancé, business woman, homeowner under reconstruction, and all around phenomenal person who had a long list of accomplishments in her young life before it was cut short by Ruby’s sniper round from his M6 assault rifle. “Everyone who knew her called her a high performance, intelligent, friendly, and assertive go-getter, who adored her children,” said Gordon.
After years of volatile litigation, a favorable jury verdict, a trial judge’s abuse of discretion and reversal, the family of Korryn Gaines has settled most of their longstanding claims against Baltimore County, according to the family’s attorney J. Wyndal Gordon. Gordon and his assembled team of community advocates, activists, organizations, lawyers, and stakeholders facilitated a successful negotiation recently of which the financial terms have not been disclosed but will in the coming days. Ken Ravenell, Kodi Gaines’ attorney, is still in talks to negotiate the final terms of a settlement agreement and it is expected that they may reach some resolution as well.
“It’s an ‘amicable and responsible’ settlement, for both sides really, as it recognizes the legal challenges created by the caps on damages as well as the humanity of Korryn Gaines deserving of greater consideration and respect” said Gordon, a nationally recognized trial lawyer based in Baltimore. “All of these concerns had for too long created an impasse in our settlement discussions, but with community involvement, all of these concerns were overcome” said Gordon. “This settlement recognizes Baltimore County’s effort to do the right thing by honoring the voice of the jury and the dignity and humanity of Korryn Gaines,” Gordon said. “At the same time it also reflects the Gaines’ family’s understanding that the legal challenges we faced were very real and we were not comfortable entrusting these very important decisions to the assigned trial judge.”
The settlement may have resolved one chapter and verse of this tragic saga, however Gordon is determined to have Cpl. Royce Ruby held accountable criminally for the wrongful death of Korryn Gaines. “It was a violent, vicious, and ghastly homicide –plain and simple” said Gordon. Gordon is also campaigning to showcase Baltimore County State’s Attorney, Scott Shellenberger’s record of prosecuting “Blue crime” – his reference to police officers who commit criminal acts in the line of duty. “Shellenberger’s record is abysmal when it comes to prosecuting so-called ‘bad apples’ who occupy the otherwise outstanding Baltimore County police force”, Gordon lamented. Shellenberger’s old-fashion 80’s style of prosecuting crime is out-dated and unsuccessful in this age and era of progressive prosecutors and criminal justice reform; it’s time for him to retire – we must retire him.”
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger declined to prosecute Ruby criminally for his misconduct responsible for Korryn’s death. His investigation was shoddy, and his conclusion that Ruby’s homicide was “justified” speaks to his disconnectedness and anachronistic advocacy.
“Shellenberger needs to be ousted, I am advocating for police reform and accountability, and I am specifically advocating for Ruby’s prosecution by the Department of Justice (DOJ),” Gordon said. “We’ve got to get Shellenberger out of office and we’ve got to prosecute cops that kill and violate the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Baltimore County.
In April, Gordon filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. “Since Shellenberger did not see fit to take any action against this killer cop, maybe the Department of Justice will,” Gordon said. “If that means I have to make my way to Washington to speak to my advocates and representatives, and Justice officials, down there, then Washington here I come.”
On Gordon and attorney Kenneth Ravenell, Kodi Gaines’ attorney, along with the National Action Network and many others have organized a rally for 6 p.m., Aug. 2, at Patriot Plaza in Towson to commemorate the life of Korryn Gaines and continue the fight for police reform and accountability and voting rights. The rally will feature appearances and comments by Lonita Baker, who is the attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family; Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, Wendy Osefo a public affairs academic and one of the stars of the Real Housewives of the Potomac; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and others.
“We’re rallying to celebrate her (Korryn’s) life, that’s the main thing. But, we are also rallying to hold her killer accountable, prosecuted by way of the DOJ, police reform and voting rights,” Gordon said.
“We’re no longer going to be satisfied with partial justice for our people struck down by sadistic and misogynistic cops, we want the full measure of justice for Korryn Gaines, and nothing less will do.”
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