A Child Abuse Investigator Explains the Problems with the Korryn Gaines Story

Safy-Hallan Farah

On Monday, after a standoff that lasted for hours, 23-year-old Korryn Gaines-- a black woman-- was shot and killed by Baltimore County police. Her 5-year-old son also sustained a gunshot, but survived.

Police say that Gaines' social media posts escalated a house visit (to serve an arrest warrant her for first- and second-degree assault, after disrupting the arrest of her husband and pointing a gun at officers) into a full-on standoff. Gaines was posting to Instagram during the standoff and many commenters encouraged her to resist arrest, which law enforcement claimed exacerbated the situation.

"It's key for these trained negotiators to be able to interact with the subject without distraction, without interference from the outside," a Baltimore County Police spokeswoman, Elise Armacost, said at a press conference.

A child protective services investigator from Illinois and Iowa who simply lists his name as Patrick shared his thoughts on the ordeal via Twitter. While the police have EXPLAINED the use of force that killed Gaines, Patrick claims -- as an expert -- that it was still unjustified. Applying basic empathy and his job training, Patrick's deconstruction is one of the most accurate and lucid to emerge because it doesn't put the blame squarely on the victim, Gaines. Instead it, positions Gaines as ordinary woman in a volatile circumstance who deserved more.

Read his unpacking of the problems with the police narrative below.


It's obvious police have not been trained in mediation and aren't trained to approach problems empathically. In 2015, Jamil Zaki contributed an amazing piece to The New Yorker on how policing that applies empathy is powerful and productive. Here's an excerpt:

About four years ago, in a city park in western Washington State, Joe Winters encountered a woman in the throes of a psychotic episode. As he sat down next to her, she told him that she had purchased the bench that they now shared and that it was her home. "I didn't buy the hallucinations, but I tried to validate the feelings underneath them," Winters told me. His strategy resembled Rogerian psychotherapy—unconditionally accepting a patient's experience, even when it is untethered from reality. But Winters is not a roving psychologist; he is a deputy in the King County Sheriff's Office. He had been called to the scene in response to the woman's behavior, which nearby residents deemed disruptive. After talking with Winters for several minutes, the woman left of her own volition, without Winters having to arrest her or resort to physical force.

It delves into empathy-focused cop training and its necessity. Had the Baltimore police who went to Gaines' house, simply listened and gained her trust, perhaps she would be alive today.

[h/t New York Times]

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