Facebook account of black woman killed by police deactivated during standoff

Once again, video posted on social media is front and center in a police-involved killing.

Korryn Gaines was killed after an hourslong standoff with police Monday near Baltimore, during which she exchanged gunfire with the cops and posted videos on Instagram — and police say her followers encouraged her to defy their orders.

So, Baltimore County police said, they asked Facebook to deactivate Gaines’ Facebook and Instagram accounts during the standoff for safety reasons.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, complied, taking down Gaines’ accounts temporarily. Now that she is dead, her Facebook account is in memorialized status. Her Instagram account also remains, and includes a video she posted during the standoff.

In the video, she can be heard asking her 5-year-old son, who appears on camera, what is going on. When she asks him who’s outside and “what are they trying to do,” he responds, “the police” and “they trying to kill us.”

The son was also shot during the standoff; police say it’s unclear whose bullets hit him but that he had non-life-threatening injuries.

A couple of other videos Gaines posted were taken down because they violated the social network’s community standards, a Facebook spokeswoman told SiliconBeat on Wednesday. On its web page describing its community standards, Facebook says “we remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.”

The spokeswoman also said there was no evidence Gaines was broadcasting live, contrary to some media reports. The videos were posted to Instagram and pulled in on her Facebook page.

Gaines, who was black, was wanted for failing to appear in court to face numerous traffic charges, according to police.

Gaines’ death comes amid widespread protests about police killings of black people, which have received more attention in the age of the smartphone and the ability to quickly upload videos or even broadcast live.

For example, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, a Minnesota man who was shot by a police officer in July and later died, used Facebook Live after he was shot. The video, which was taken down from Facebook temporarily, showed him bleeding in the car. Facebook blamed a technical glitch for the video being inaccessible at one point. When the video was restored, it was preceded by a warning that it contained graphic content.

Facebook has an online system that allows cops to submit such requests when “responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay,” according to its website.

The deactivation of Facebook users’ accounts at the request of police raises questions about free speech and takes away a tool that some people have welcomed as a way to hold police accountable.

Tech entrepreneur and writer Anil Dash tweeted the following Thursday:

Baltimore County police said this was the first time they asked Facebook to deactivate an account, according to the Baltimore Sun. But a police spokeswoman said “we do expect that these requests will become more frequent now that live-streaming has become a part of everyday life.”

Photo: Authorities respond to the scene in Randallstown, Maryland, Aug. 1, 2016, where the police standoff with Korryn Gaines took place. (Maya Earls/The Baltimore Sun via AP)


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  • Guy LeDouche

    Fascinating. Are black people suddenly exempt from following the laws the rest of us have to follow.

    “She was shot over traffic tickets?!”

    No – she was shot when she decided to shoot at the police instead of taking responsibility for her traffic tickets like the rest of civilized society does. And all of that in front of her own child? What a selfish, selfish human being.

  • John Sheridan

    A thought, based on the federal findings in Ferguson, MO and articles and discussions I have been reading and having with and about African-Americans and the ‘traffic fine’ money pipeline. Many, many, many African-Americans are being shaken down by unscrupulous cops and courts, forced to pay huge cumulative fines and late fee penalties for so-called traffic violations. These often end up putting an enormous strain on people.

    An example: A young African-American client of mine in CA was pulled over because she didn’t have a current license stub on her plate. She had it with her but hadn’t put it on. Did they just let her do it and go, as she had no warrants or other tickets? NO! She ended up being taken to jail all day long, and had hundreds of dollars of court fees and lost work time. FOR WHAT???? These racist cops and the municipal evil courts do this routinely. I told her to start a blog in her area and find out how often this kind of legalized theft is taking place with others. Perhaps the woman who was just killed was under some kind of similar, cumulative stress that made her snap, we don’ yet now. But in the larger picture, we need to stop shaking African-Americans down.

    • Guy LeDouche

      “A young African-American client of mine…”

      Ah, that’s all you need to say. Another lawyer pushing others to not take responsibility for their actions under the guise of “justice”. The absolute moral vacuum exhibited by these lawyers as they rape the law and become a shill for special interest groups is absolutely disgusting. And here they are, on social media, lying to rally more support from the uneducated masses like the pied piper leading rats to their death.

      Your client? Moron obviously wouldn’t sign the ticket. It’s a fix-it ticket and they wouldn’t sign it so that means they are demanding to see a magistrate…i.e. A JUDGE. Explain it to me – WHY? Why is your client so different from EVERYONE ELSE who signs the ticket and then fights it? Your client decided to “take a stand” and ended up wearing it. This is because your client is an idiot who realized the only way they can make a buck in this world is through morally bankrupt legal panhandlers such as yourself.

      • John Sheridan

        I will treat you with the restraint you do not deserve. I am a printmaker and the woman is an ARTIST. What a presumptuous (fill in the blank) you are buddy.

        • Guy LeDouche

          So you have zero expertise on the topic is what you are saying. As least, as a lawyer, you would know you are full of s***.

          • John Sheridan

            Hey guy, you ahole. I am a printmaker and she is an artist. Is that OK with you? Why do you, lamebrain jump to the assumption I am an attorney. Hahahahah!

          • Guy LeDouche

            Because, typically, only a lawyer can create a fantasy like that. Most rational humans understand that there is more than one side to the story.

            How about this racist stat: In use of force situations where lethal force is justified – police officers are 20% LESS likely to use lethal force on blacks than whites. Yes. Less likely. Fascinating stat provided by a BLACK tenured Harvard professor after doing 3000 hours of research.

            Instead you choose to perpetuate the media spin. Because of people like you, law enforcement is less likely to respond to calls, less likely to risk their lives for the general public and less likely to see qualified candidates in the future because…lets be honest…why the HELL would anyone want to risk their lives for people of your ilk? That leaves you…a printmaker…to fend for yourself.

            Hell, I’m sure you will have no problem with that.

    • Dan

      If you don’t want to get pulled over by the cops then it would be a smart decision to put your new registration sticker on your license place when you get it rather than waiting.

  • wpsturgeon

    Where does a 5 year get the words, “They’re trying to kill us”? From the mother. What a bad parent.. Shotgun pointing at the police and her 5 year in her arms as a shield thinking the police won’t shoot.. So much makeup on her face. What color was she really?

  • Dan


    People like her don’t deserve to have “their voices heard” when they’re holding hostages and threatening law enforcement officials.

  • Shirleen Battal

    Everybody has a God giving right for their Voice to be heard! even in the constitution is the freedom of speech. once again an African American being targeted by the police. This woman was no threat to society or the police she had a little boy now he does not have a mother, his mother was only wanted for traffic tickets so that leads to murder?! this is not but pure racism and and a grave breach of justice! but the biggest injustice is for a 5 year old boy who is now motherless. there are so many ways this could have been avoided I know trump loving racists are happy. You really would have to be a heartless Bastard to say good about this! their is no good about killing a young Mother.