The Korryn Gaines Traffic Stop Video Reveals A Lot About Her Demise

“Who is outside?”
“The police.”
“What are they trying to do?”
“They’re trying to kill us.”
“Do you want to go out there?”

These are some of the exchanges between then Randallstown Maryland resident 23-year old Korryn Gaines and her child before she was shot and killed on Monday August 1, 2016, by Baltimore County Maryland police ending an hours long standoff with them.

Korryn Gaines’ fateful Monday began after 9:00 a.m. when Baltimore County police officers knocked on the door of the Carriage Hill apartment she was in to serve arrest warrants to Gaines and a man reported as her boyfriend, 39-year-old Kiean Courtney .

Gaines was wanted for failure to appear in court on several charges stemming from a March traffic stop. Her boyfriend was wanted on a second-degree assault related to a previous domestic incident in which Korryn Gaines was the victim, police said.

Sometimes after 9:00 am a Baltimore County police officer knocked on the door of the Carriage Hill apartment identifying himself as a police officer. After waiting 10 minutes without a response but hearing voices inside the Carriage Hill dwelling, police obtained a key to the apartment from the landlord.

It’s reported that around this time Kiean Courtney fled the apartment with a one year old child leaving Gaines and the other child to deal with the police. That’s not a good look for a Black man in times where authoritarian figures are shooting Black men and women at the roll down of a window and asking or not answering questions later.

The Baltimore Sun, citing police reports as a source, revealed that while the key opened the apartment door, there was a security chain impeding the door from opening completely and an officer had to kick the door open.

Police reported finding Gaines sitting on the floor with her five-year-old son in one arm while holding a shotgun in the other arm.

Police retreated beginning a standoff that resulted in them entering the apartment again hours later and killing Gaines in what they say was a small exchange of gunfire with her. Her child was wounded in the exchange.

Now I’m not about to quarterback the nuances of what should have or should not have happened in that apartment seeing as how much of the reporting is preliminary as I write this.

I do think that a prior traffic stop by Baltimore County police of Gaines should have provided the officers that showed up at her door some insight on Gaines — highlighting the fact that she possessed a strong determined personality and could be easily antagonized by police.

Video of the traffic stop revealed that Gaines had no problem dying to protect her rights and dignity (she tells the officer in video “You‘re going to have to kill me today.’’) She never threatens the officers with violence (she does threaten litigation if they touch her) while holding steadfast to her position of not being arrested.

In these times of cops shooting Blacks during traffic stops nearly every month it’s worth noting the Baltimore County officers in the video handled the stop with remarkable poise, professionalism, and restraint. To be brutally honest, if another set of officers had stopped her this stop could have possibly been her last stop and we wouldn’t be talking about her death in an apartment.

Here’s a video of that traffic stop taken by a camera located in Gaines’ vehicle.

While viewing the video I learned a lot about the woman. I see a woman that wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and what she felt was right. I see a woman that had witnessed too many atrocities heaped on Blacks by police officers and was convinced she and her sons would be treated no differently. I see a woman that was not scared to pay the ultimate price to retain her convictions.

If those officers on the traffic stop filed reports on that traffic stop those reports should have been available to the powers that be issuing the arrest warrants on Gaines.

Those reports should have noted Gaines’ demeanor and obvious agitation at being approached by police officers.

I would think that someone would have concluded “‘this warrant is for low level traffic infractions and it seems this woman has no qualms about dying for principle. If she had a huge problem with a vehicle stop she’s sure to have a problem with police knocking on her door. Let’s pick this one up at the grocery store or someplace where hands are visible and terms are favorable to both her and us going home unharmed”.

It should be noted also that the police did exercise restraint (there was a standoff) while trying to serve the warrants.

It’s reported that after gaining entry to the apartment and witnessing Gaines with the shotgun they retreated — which is a 360 degree turn from what we’ve been seeing police do when encountering a Black person with a gun.

Maybe they took into account the fact that Gaines was in her own home with a legally licensed weapon which was not a crime.

There have been discussions that speculated about the state of Gaines’ mental health due to her growing up surrounded by lead paint covered walls. I’m not qualified to assess her mental capacities but I will say she seemed fairly intelligent and astute to me. She was certainly astute enough to gain the respect of the officers that stopped her vehicle. In short she seemed to be pretty much in control of all her faculties.

The reason I mention the mental health speculations is because it seems to be the norm to tag Blacks that intelligently and determinedly defend themselves as being “antagonistic” and “crazy” while Whites do the same thing and it’s accepted as defending their rights — case closed.

Now this woman did the best she could with what resources she had in a world where the odds were heavily stacked against her. I’m not going to be the one to nick pick apart her approach because frankly I don’t see anything to nick pick.

I do know this. The day her short life ended found her doing something a whole lot of us would do well to do — hold steadfast to what we deserve and what we believe in.

Rest in peace Korryn Gaines. Rest assured your life will not be defined by not answering a few traffic violations.