As previously stated in part one, 1 in 4 people killed by the hands of an officer will have some case of a serious mental illness…The same is true in the case of Korryn Gaines. Korryn Gaines was a 23 year old mother of two who was murdered by Baltimore SWAT, IN FRONT of her five year old son. The incident leading up to her death, began when three Baltimore police officers arrived at Korryn’s home to serve both her and her live in boyfriend warrants. When Korryn refused to open the door, police obtained a key from the landlord and entered the home. What they saw upon entering was a Korryn holding her 5 year old child, as well as a shotgun and her phone.
Now, the first thought that most officers would have in this situation is probably fear for their own safety – as was the case with Baltimore PD. They claimed that Korryn pointed the shotgun and made threats to officers, which eventually transpired into an almost 6 hours of negotiations, and ultimately the ending of the young mothers life…But here’s my question: Being that she was clearly in some state of distress and possibly suffering mental issues as well, why wasn’t there anyone who was brought in who was specially trained to speak and negotiate with mentally ill suspects? Reports claim that during the stand off with SWAT, Korryn would have moments of speaking calm and clearly, then the next moment she would be screaming and speaking irratically. On the surface, this could appear to be the affects of adrenaline and high emotions given the situation. But someone with more training and awareness could have identified her as a person with mental illness in distress.
Korryn Gaines had a long history of mental health issues, which is believed to have stemmed from lead poising earlier in her life. In 2012, Korryn filed a lawsuit against her former landlord, claiming that “a sea of lead” made her sick. The doctor who examined her found that Korryn displayed signs of neurocognitive impairment, as well as a significant loss of IQ points due to that exposure. (washingtonpost.com) Also important to mention, is the testimony given by Korryn’s pediatrician. She stated that Korryn had a history of anger and impulsive behavior, which resulted in many visits with the school counselor. She also revealed that Korryn also had difficulty with concentration, and was forced to drop out of college because it became to be too much for her. (baltimoresun.com) Additionally, according to Korryn’s boyfriend Kareem, she was prescribed medication for her mood, but had not been taking her medications for quite some time.
So back to my question – Why wasn’t a more suitable team of responders called to try and deescalate the situation, given Korryn’s mental status?
Korryn’s mother, Rhonda Dormeus was called to the scene with SWAT, but she wasn’t allowed to speak to her daughter. She stated that “..I don’t feel like they (Baltimore PD) exhausted all the means of negotiation.” There are currently over 2700 CIT (Crisis Intervention Teams) across the US, that’s main function is to elieviate difficult situations when people are experiencing mental distress. Those that have interactions with a CIT trained officer, are set up to receive counseling, medication services, as well as other means of treatment. (nami.org) All services that could have greatly benefited both Korryn Gaines her children, but instead she was forced to deal with her mental crisis alone, which ultimately cost her life.
– Jasmine JeNay ✨