Supreme Court of Maryland Sides with the National Police Association’s Amicus Brief in Support of Baltimore County SWAT Officer

INDIANAPOLIS, July 8, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The highest court in Maryland has determined that a Baltimore County officer who inadvertently injured a 5-year-old boy during a standoff with his mother is not liable for violating the child’s due process rights.

In August 2016, Baltimore County Police attempted to arrest Korryn Gaines, who was armed with a shotgun and in her apartment with her son, Kodi. Police called for backup and the SWAT Team, including Corporal Royce Ruby, responded.

Ruby testified that after six hours of the standoff, he saw Korryn Gaines raising her shotgun into a firing position, prompting him to fire. Korryn Gaines did not survive.

Corey Cunningham, on behalf of Kodi Gaines, filed suit.

The National Police Association (NPA) submitted an amicus brief in the case of Cunningham v. Baltimore County, presenting arguments in support of Corporal Ruby.

The legal question before the Maryland Supreme Court did not concern whether Corporal Ruby’s actions violated Korryn Gaines’ rights. The case before the justices focused on whether he violated Kodi’s rights.

Kodi was injured by a bullet that struck Korryn Gaines. The Court ruled, in a 40-plus page opinion, that Ruby is entitled to qualified immunity in this matter, protecting him from penalties for Kodi’s injuries.

The NPA’s involvement stems from its vested interest in the legal frameworks and protections available to law enforcement officers. By submitting this brief, the NPA aimed to ensure that the legal standards applied in this case did not undermine the operational efficacy and legal protections crucial to law enforcement officers.

The NPA defended the doctrine of qualified immunity, arguing that it is essential for enabling police officers to perform their duties without the constant fear of litigation. The NPA argued that without such protections, law enforcement officers would be hesitant to make split-second decisions in critical situations, which could compromise public safety.

The brief highlighted the potential negative consequences of eroding qualified immunity. It argued that weakening this doctrine could lead to increased litigation against officers, diverting resources away from policing efforts and toward legal defense. This would undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and compromise public safety.

The brief underscored the importance of maintaining a balance between holding law enforcement accountable and ensuring that officers can perform their duties without undue hindrance. The NPA contended that qualified immunity strikes this balance by providing protection to officers acting in good faith while still allowing for accountability in cases of clear constitutional violations.

The amicus brief submitted by the National Police Association in the case of Cunningham v. Baltimore County highlights the complex interplay between federal law, state law, and the doctrine of qualified immunity. By providing perspective, the NPA aimed to ensure that the court’s decision would reflect a balanced approach that upholds the legal protections necessary for effective law enforcement while also considering the rights of individuals. The brief underscored the importance of qualified immunity in enabling police officers to perform their duties effectively and argued against any erosion of this critical legal doctrine.

The National Police Association was represented by Robert S. Lafferrandre and Jeffrey C. Hendrickson of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P., in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The case is Cunningham v. Baltimore County et al., No. SCM-REG-0009-2023, before the Maryland Supreme Court. The NPA’s brief can be accessed here. The Court’s ruling can be read here. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission of educating supporters of law enforcement on how to help police departments accomplish their goals.

Media Contact:

Tim Livingston


SOURCE National Police Association