Gaines’ death received national attention on Tuesday, after news broke that the 23-year-old mother was shot and killed after an hours-long standoff with police.
Dormeus told The Sun that she was on a Facebook call with her daughter during a portion of the incident. “I could hear her boyfriend telling her it wasn’t worth it, to just come on out,” Dormeus, 49, said. “At that time the phone went dead.”
A SWAT team was called to Gaines’ Randallstown apartment after she brandished a gun at police, who arrived to serve her and her 39-year-old boyfriend, Kareem Kiean Courtney, with warrants for their arrest. Gaines failed to appear in court in March on a traffic violation, while Courtney was charged with second degree-assault after an alleged altercation with Gaines on June 28, according to The Sun.
During the standoff, police say Gaines exhibited a range of emotions, sometimes exasperated, other times silent. Courtney eventually evacuated the apartment and took a 1-year-old infant with him. Police arrested him, but according to The Sun, he was later released.
Authorities say they were forced to fire at Gaines after she pointed her gun at them. Officers, whose names have not been released, fired one shot, missing Gaines. She then fired back twice in retaliation, and was fatally struck by three bullets.
Gaines’ 5-year-old son, Kodi, was in the apartment with her and was struck in the arm. He also has bullet fragments in his face, an elbow injury, and is recovering at John Hopkins Children’s Hospital.
Dormeus said she arrived on the scene before the standoff turned deadly, but was not allowed to interact with her child – a move she feels would have saved her daughter’s life.
“I do feel like they didn’t want to hurt her,” Dormeus said. “But I don’t feel like they exhausted all the means of negotiation.”
During Monday’s incident, Gaines posted several videos to her Facebook and Instagram accounts. Police contacted Facebook, who also owns Instagram, asking for temporary deactivation, which they say was necessary for the “integrity of the negotiation process,” and to keep Kodi from harm.
Many turned to Gaines’ social media accounts to piece together the woman thrust into the national spotlight after her death. Her posts range from showing a large distrust of law enforcement, to messages of self-love and Black pride.
“Not all of her beliefs I agreed with,” Dormeus said. “Her heart was in a good place, she loved her black people, and she just wanted them to see things for what she felt it really was.”
In the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s recent shooting deaths, Gaines’ case paints another troubling portrait of the necessary work law enforcement should examine to successfully de-escalate interactions in minority communities.
The Sun writes that in 2012, Gaines filed a lawsuit against the owners of two Baltimore homes, alleging lead paint exposure. Her attorney claimed Gaines suffered “neurological impairments” and lost “significant IQ points as a result of that exposure.” Gaines sought $918,000 in damages.
But Gaines also battled depression and severe mood swings, which was confirmed by a pediatrician’s medical examination in the lawsuit.
In spite of her trials, Gaines graduated from Baltimore City College in 2010. She also attended Morgan State University, majoring in political science during the fall of 2010, but left school once she learned she was pregnant.
“She had a huge heart,” said Sanchel Brown, Gaines’ high school classmate and dance team partner. “And she was a woman who just wanted the best for her family and for her children.”
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter