Baltimore, MD - The 16-year-old accused of murdering Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio was referred to as a “one-man crime wave” by the judge who oversaw his bail hearing on Tuesday.
Dawnta Harris’ juvenile criminal history showed that he was no stranger to the criminal justice system, WBAL reported.
On Monday – the same day that Harris fatally struck 29-year-old Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio with a stolen Jeep – he was actually supposed to be under house arrest for a litany of previous motor vehicle theft offenses, Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services Sam Abed said in a press conference.
According to Abed, Harris’ public defender worked with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby's office, and the court to release the teen from custody on May 10, WMAR reported.
The hearing was held without the Juvenile Services Department’s involvement, he added.
“On May 10, there was a detention that the department was not a party to, where the youth was released back to electronic monitoring,” Abed said.
"We said he shouldn't be in such a program. He needs to be back in detention, but we don't have the authority in the department to do that alone," Abed said, according to WBAL.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby fired back at Abed during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, and said she was “more than appalled, disheartened, and perplexed” by his comments.
Mosby alleged that Abed attempted to “shift responsibility away from his department” by placing blame on the prosecutor’s office “for the release of an alleged murderer.”
“I categorically deny the accuracy of the secretary’s statements about the actions taken by both my office and the department,” she said.
She then noted that juvenile matters are bound by “secrecy” laws, which she claimed Abed had violated.
Because of those same laws, she claims that she can't provide any details to back up her claims of not asking for the release of a cop-killer during her re-election campaign.
Abed disagreed, and said he could speak publicly regarding Harris’ record because he had been charged as an adult, WBAL reported.
Harris’ juvenile criminal history showed a pattern of repeated offenses, WBAL reported.
He was arrested on four occasions for vehicle thefts between December of 2017 and March of this year, resulting in him being placed in several detention and community programs.
One of the vehicle thefts even occurred while Harris was attending a juvenile placement program in Montgomery County, according to WBAL.
He was detained on April 17, but the court released him onto electronic monitoring on May 10, Abed said during the press conference.
“While he was on electronic monitoring between then and May 18, his compliance was poor,” Abed continued.
The Juvenile Services Department again asked that Harris be brought back before the court for noncompliance, but the hearing was continued on May 18, and no court order was ever issued.
Harris absconded from house arrest, and his own mother even reported that her son was missing and out of compliance, Abed said.
"Our staff contacted his mother on numerous occasions. We attempted to contact the youth through his cellphone. We went to the school and other places that we knew him to frequent, to try and locate him. We made many attempts to try to contact this young man," he explained.
Having disregarded his house arrest conditions, Harris proceeded to steal a black Jeep, and he and his friends headed to Perry Hall to burglarize residences.
Court documents said that Harris admitted to investigators that he was waiting in the Jeep while 17-year-old Eugene Genius, 16-year-old Derrick Matthews, and 15-year-old Darrell Ward committed a residential burglary.
“They used forced entry to get into a home , threw a rock through a window, went inside stealing jewelry, cash, anything they could get their hands on,” Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence Sheridan said during the press conference.
Officer Caprio was dispatched to the neighborhood to investigate a report of a suspicious vehicle, when she encountered Harris.
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.
Bodycam footage showed that Officer Caprio fired her duty weapon at her attacker, just before he fatally struck her with the vehicle, police said. Harris then fled the scene.
Investigators located a bullet hole in the front windshield of the abandoned Jeep, the department said in the press release.
Harris was arrested “almost immediately” after the attack, Chief Sheridan said during the press conference.
"The medical examiner has ruled homicide,” he added. “Cause of death is multiple traumas to the head and torso.”
Harris was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, and is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center, according to the department.
He appeared before the court on Tuesday for a bail hearing, but this time the judge denied him bond.
"Your client, in the last six months, is a one-man crime wave," a Baltimore County judge told Harris’ attorney, according to WBAL. "I'm not sure any facility is secure enough to hold him."
Harris’ accomplices were apprehended on Tuesday.
All three were automatically waived to adult status, and have been charged with first-degree murder under the felony murder law, as well as first-degree burglary, police said.
Officer Caprio would have marked her fourth anniversary with the Baltimore County Police Department in July, WBAL reported.
She was the first female officer to die in the line of duty in the history of the department.
Officer Caprio will be laid to rest on Friday, Chief Sheridan said.