Video After The Jump
PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — A 16-year-old who was supposed to be on house arrest for auto theft was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the death of a Maryland police officer.
After hearing about Dawnta Anthony Harris’ numerous recent run-ins with the law, a judge called him a “one-man crime wave” and ordered the teen held without bail.
More than 20 police officers were in the courtroom when Harris made his first court appearance by video. Harris has been charged as an adult in the Monday killing of Baltimore County police Officer Amy Caprio, who was responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle that authorities say was involved in a burglary.
Investigators have reviewed the slain officer’s body camera footage, prosecutor William Bickel said during the hearing. It clearly shows Harris accelerating a stolen Jeep at Caprio after she tried to apprehend him on the suburban cul-de-sac in the Perry Hall community northeast of Baltimore, he said.
“She fired her weapon. He ran over her,” Bickel said. Harris was apprehended shortly after abandoning the Jeep, which was stolen May 18 in Baltimore, not far away, Bickel said.
A yellow lockup jumpsuit appeared baggy on Harris’ slight 120-pound, 5-foot-7 frame during the hearing in Towson. When asked if he understood the charge he faces, Harris mumbled “yes” as he sat next to his public defender.
Harris has a series of auto theft arrests and a repeated history of running away from juvenile facilities, Bickel said. The teen was on house arrest at his mother’s West Baltimore home but ran away May 14, prosecutors said.
Judge Sally Chester ordered the ninth-grader to be held at Baltimore County Detention Center, an adult lockup.
“Your client is one-man crime wave,” Chester told Harris’ public defender, who was pushing for Harris to be sent to a juvenile lockup.
According to a probable cause statement filed Tuesday, Harris told a detective he had been waiting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle as “associates” were committing a burglary.
He tried to flee in the Jeep when he saw Caprio arrive on the block, but she followed him and ordered him out of the vehicle, the statement said. Harris told the detective that he “drove at the officer,” according to the statement.
Police have said three other teenagers suspected in area burglaries were in custody Tuesday in connection with the incident. The teens, who police didn’t immediately name, were expected to have initial court appearances Wednesday.
Caprio won an “Officer of the Month” award for the Parkville precinct in December. Police said at the time that her investigation led to the identification and arrest of two suspects in numerous package thefts in eastern Baltimore County and neighboring jurisdictions.
She would have been on the force four years in July, police said.
After Harris’ court hearing, officers declined to speak to reporters about their slain colleague. Her relatives could not immediately be reached by The Associated Press
Caprio’s death stunned the quiet, residential neighborhood, said Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who lives nearby.
“The community I represent stands united in grief for this fallen police officer, and our hope is that all those involved are brought to justice,” Marks said.
Resident Tony Kurek told The Associated Press his adult son was outside in the family’s yard Monday afternoon when the son saw the officer with her gun drawn, confronting someone in a Jeep.
“The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her,” Kurek said. The car left skid marks, he said, and officer was on the ground bleeding.
Logan Kurek, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he heard his younger brother “frantically screaming” and ran outside to perform CPR on the officer. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“It’s just different that right outside your front door, a lady went to work yesterday, she was on a simple, routine call for an apparent burglary, meets the criminals and she don’t go home,” Tony Kurek said. “That’s sad. It’s very sad.”
Rankin reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia, and Courtney Columbus in Towson contributed to this report.