Baltimore County, MD – A jury deliberated for six-and-a-half hours before returning a guilty verdict against 17-year-old Dawnta Harris for the murder of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio (video below).
Harris, who was charged as an adult, slumped in his seat in the packed courtroom and began sobbing after the jury handed down its verdict that found him guilty of murder and burglary, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon and rendered their verdict on Wednesday morning.
Harris is facing life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“My heartfelt condolences and prayers remain with Officer Amy Caprio’s family. The past couple of weeks have undoubtedly been difficult for Amy’s family, friends, and co-workers at the Baltimore County Police Department,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a statement. “I thank the jurors who listened to the testimony, examined the evidence and rendered their verdict. While this does not bring back Officer Caprio, justice has been delivered.”
The incident which led to Officer Caprio’s murder began when she stumbled upon a burglary in progress at approximately 2 p.m. on May 21, 2018, while she was investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle, WJZ reported.
According to the Associated Press, police later discovered damage to a patio door at one residence in the area.
Court documents said that Harris admitted to investigators that he was driving a Jeep Wrangler, and that he was waiting in the vehicle while his three accomplices were committing a residential burglary.
When Officer Caprio arrived in the area, Harris said he attempted to flee, but ended up in a cul-de-sac.
Officer Caprio pursued him, then exited her patrol vehicle and demanded that Harris get out of the Jeep, court documents said.
Harris said he opened the driver’s door partway, but that he closed the door again, and “drove at the officer,” the report read.
Tony Kurek said that his adult son was outside in the yard and witnessed the officer confronting the occupants inside a Jeep with her weapon drawn, the Associated Press reported.
Another neighbor, Dahle Amendt, said he was inside his home when heard the officer issuing commands to someone outside.
“I heard, ‘Get out of the car! Get out of the car! Get out of the car!' at least three times, and then a pop," Amendt said.
Kurek said that his son heard the same sound.
"The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her," he recounted.
“She basically landed almost in front of my mailbox,” Kurek told The Baltimore Sun.
The Jeep fled the scene, leaving skid marks on the street next to the dying officer.
Kurek called 911, as his other son began performing CPR on the fallen officer, he said.
“I had a very, very bad feeling that she was going or gone,” Kurek recalled. “She was young. It just breaks your heart.”
Officer Caprio, 29, who had been on the police force for almost four years, was bleeding profusely when she was rushed to a nearby hospital.
She was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m., less than an hour after she tried to stop Harris, WJZ reported.
Early in the investigation, attorneys for Harris called on the state’s attorney’s office to release the fallen officer’s bodycam footage.
Warren Brown and J. Wyndal Gordon flanked the killer’s sobbing mother and told reporters that Officer Caprio’s murder had been an “accident.”
“This was not an intentional killing. It was not deliberate. It was not premeditated. This was an accident. And that’s how we feel about it,” Gordon said.
The attorneys for Harris said their client had no motive to run down Officer Caprio, despite the fact that Harris was violating his house arrest and driving a stolen Jeep Wrangler as a getaway car while his friends committed burglaries nearby when he was stopped.
His lawyers said he didn’t know that what his friends were doing.
His attorneys maintained that he didn’t mean to kill the officer.
“He drove away from danger… they make it sound like he drove at her,” Brown complained.
He insisted Harris had no propensity for violence in his background and that it’s a mischaracterization to say that he “murdered” Officer Caprio because he was just trying to get away because he was afraid.
“There wasn’t any intention on his part to strike the officer,” Brown told reporters.
“It’s not to say that he should be patted on the back for that. But I think we need to put things in the correct perspective - he ain’t a killa’. He’s a kid that panicked when a gun was put in his face,” the attorney maintained.
But Officer Caprio’s bodycam footage painted a very different picture from what her killer’s attorneys have tried to tell the public.
Jurors were shown the bodycam video of her murder on Friday, and that long-awaited footage was also released to the public, WJZ reported.
The video showed Officer Caprio stood in front of a black Jeep Wrangler that prosecutors said was driven by the then-16-year-old Harris with her weapon drawn.
“Stop, stop!” Officer Caprio yelled at the driver of the Jeep. “Get out of the car!”
She repeatedly ordered Harris to get out of the car, the video showed.
The video showed Harris stopped his vehicle and opened the driver’s door of the Jeep briefly as if to comply with the officer’s order.
But then he shut it again, and slammed on the gas, driving directly at Officer Caprio.
Officer Caprio fired one shot as the Jeep ran her over and drove off, leaving her for dead, WJZ reported.
The portion of the video that included hearing the officer dying was not released by the media due to its graphic nature; however, the video in its entirety was shown to the jury.
Watch the fallen officer’s bodycam video of her murder below. WARNING - Disturbing Content: