Korryn Gaines' Facebook Was Deactivated Because She Was Filming the Police

Human Rights

Korryn Gaines was fatally shot by the police in a Maryland apartment Monday after an hours-long standoff with the police. As the authorities and public continue to look into her death, it came to light that the Baltimore County police asked Facebook to deactivate Gaines’ account during the standoff because she was live streaming the encounter. Facebook complied.

The police claimed they shot Gaines only after she raised a gun and threatened to kill them after barricading herself in her apartment with her five-year-old son. The officers were trying to bring an arrest warrant for Gaines failing to appear in court for charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest lodged against her during a traffic stop in March. Her son was wounded by a gunshot and taken to the hospital, but was expected to survive.

In a news conference Tuesday, the Baltimore police said they asked Facebook and Instagram to deactivate Gaines’ accounts because her followers were telling her to resist their orders. “We did in fact reach out to social media authorities to deactivate her account, to take it offline, if you will,” said Baltimore County police chief James Johnson. “Why? In order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process with her and for the safety of our personnel [and] her child. Ms Gaines was posting video of the operation as it unfolded. Followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ request that she surrender peacefully.”

It took about an hour for the 23-year-old mother’s accounts to be shut down, and she was shot afterwards. After Philando Castile’s girlfriend live streamed the aftermath of his fatal police shooting last month and it gained national attention, it’s likely (though unproven at this point) that the police wanted to ensure a similar situation didn’t happen with Gaines. However, she’s yet another young black person killed by the police this year, so she and Castile’s cases already have that in common.

Her Facebook account wasn’t fully deleted, according to police chief Johnson, and will now become evidence. The police involved weren’t wearing body cameras, so whatever video Gaines did take is the only live-action evidence of what really happened, though it was shut off before she was killed.

In one of the videos of the standoff that’s been taken offline, Gaines asks her five-year-old son who’s outside. According to CNN, he answers that it’s the police, and when she asks why, he says, “They’re trying to kill us.”

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