Facebook deactivated the social media accounts of Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old mother who was fatally shot by Baltimore County Police Monday after a standoff that lasted several hours, at the request of police, officials said Tuesday.
Gaines was shot after police said she pointed a shotgun at officers and threatened to kill them if they did not leave her house. The shooting came after several hours of negotiation. Her 5-year-old son was shot in the arm during the shootout, but was in good condition Tuesday, police said. Investigators have not determined if the child was shot by police or by Gaines.
Police said Gaines was posting video to her social media pages during the standoff. Facebook took down her profile on that social media site, and also deactivated her Instagram account. Facebook owns Instagram, a photo and video sharing platform.
The photos, videos and other information on the accounts were not deleted, police said, but were preserved as evidence.
The department released a statement on the process they followed to have the accounts deactivated. You can read the statement below:
On-scene command staff filed a request with Facebook during the barricade to deactivate Gaines’ Facebook and Instagram accounts in order to preserve the integrity of negotiations with her and for the safety of Gaines, her child and officers. Gaines was posting video of the operation, and followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ requests that she surrender peacefully. This was a serious concern; successful negotiations often depend on the negotiators’ ability to converse directly with the subject, without interference or distraction during extremely volatile conditions.
The content on Gaines’ social media accounts has not been deleted. BCoPD has filed a request with Facebook to preserve this content as evidence. A search warrant will be obtained to obtain these records.
Law enforcement officials do not have the ability or authority to deactivate social media accounts on their own. Facebook maintains a law enforcement portal through which police request assistance. This portal includes an “exigency” option for emergency situations like the one yesterday. BCoPD applied for the exigency deactivation because of a barricade situation involving an armed subject with a child.
Facebook evaluates law enforcement requests and determines what action will be taken. It took nearly an hour after BCoPD contacted Facebook for Gaines’ accounts to be taken off line.
Facebook has not commented on the Gaines’ situation.
Family and friends spoke out about the social media profiles being removed in the hours after the shooting:
Some had accused police of deleting the pages and videos in the hours after the shooting:
You can watch videos posted by Gaines on Monday and during previous encounters with police at the link below: