Teen charged in Baltimore County police officer’s death, accused of ramming Jeep into cop

Teen charged in Baltimore County police officer’s death, accused of ramming Jeep into cop
Baltimore County Police via CNN
Dawnta Anthony Harris, 16, is charged with first-degree murder.

Baltimore County, Maryland, police arrested a teenager who allegedly admitted to using a Jeep Wrangler to fatally strike an officer who was trying to get the youth to exit the vehicle.

Dawnta Anthony Harris, 16, was arrested Monday in connection with the death of Baltimore County police Officer Amy Caprio. He has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder and will have a bail hearing Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

The incident began around 2 p.m. Monday when police were called to investigate a report of a possible burglary in which three people had gotten out of a black Jeep and were walking around homes, according to a probable cause statement. The callers said the subjects had broken into one home, the documents state.

County Police Chief Terry Sheridan said Caprio followed a black vehicle that parked near the house.

“She exited her vehicle, ordered the driver out of his car,” Sheridan said Tuesday at a news conference. “The driver opened their door, the door closed, and the car hit her, struck her, drove over her.”

Officers arriving at the scene found Caprio in the roadway suffering from traumatic injuries. She was transported to Franklin Square Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the probable cause documents said. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, Sheridan said.

No shooting

Caprio was not shot, Sheridan said, and no firearm was found on Harris or in the vehicle. On Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had tweeted that she died of a gunshot wound.

The vehicle was discovered abandoned nearby, and a description of the driver was broadcast over police radio, the documents said. Harris matched that description and was stopped about a block from the abandoned Jeep, according to court documents.

In an interview with police, he admitted he was waiting in the driver’s seat of the Jeep as other associates were committing a burglary, according to court documents.

Scott D. Shellenberger, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore County, said the body camera video will help prosecute the case. He said he’s advising the police chief not to make it public.

“I anticipate that sometime in the next several years this defendant may have a jury trial and therefore it’s important potential jurors not be watching this video over and over again,” Shellenberger said.

4 arrests for car theft, official says

Sam Abed, Maryland secretary of juvenile services, said his department had been trying to put Harris into custody before the death of Caprio.

Harris had been arrested four times previously for car theft, he said. He had been jailed April 17 but on May 10 was released and ordered to wear a electronic monitoring devices, Abed said.

Harris had not complied with restrictions of his release, Abed said, and the juvenile services department was trying to have him put back into custody.

However, the case was continued at a May 18 court hearing, he said.

3 other teens arrested

Three teenage males suspected of being involved with burglaries in the area also have been arrested, police said. They have not been charged yet and their names and ages have not been released, and authorities have not said if they will be prosecuted as adults.

Schellenberger said it appears the four youths were working together on the burglary. He said he hopes to prosecute them on charges of felony murder, even though they were not in the car when the officer was run over.

“They are in for everything that occurs as a result of that burglary, including when their co-defendant is outside running over a police officer and killing her,” he said. “We believe we have a solid theory to proceed on murder charges for all four of them.”

Remembering Caprio

The officer had worked for Baltimore County police for nearly four years and had a bright future in law enforcement, Sheridan said.

“She was the kind of officer who would go up in this department and lead,” he said.

Hogan said US and state flags will fly at half-staff until Caprio is laid to rest.

“She bravely made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and security of our citizens, and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her selfless service,” he said.