Baltimore policewoman dies after getaway car runs her over during ongoing burglary
A female police officer in Baltimore was run over by a car when she interrupted an ongoing burglary, and now a teenager has been charged with her murder.
16-year-old Anthony Harris is being tried for the death of 29-year-old Baltimore County Officer First Class Amy Caprio. He is being tried as an adult and not a juvenile offender due to his criminal record and faces life in prison.
He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next month in Baltimore County District Court, reported The Baltimore Sun.
The police officer confronted Harris and three other youngsters in Perry Hall, Baltimore.
She had been on the force for four years and succumbed to her injuries on Monday.
Caprio found Harris at the wheels of the car after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle in Perry Hall. The caller reported that three people had left a Jeep and broken into a home, according to charging documents.
Witnesses said that they heard the officer shouting "Get out of the car!" a number of times and then the ringing sound of a gunshot. However, the exact details of how the incident transpired are yet to be ascertained.
It was reported that Caprio pursued Harris down the cul-de-sac. Once she had cornered the vehicle, she got out of her patrol car, drew her gun and ordered Harris to get out of the car.
“He put his head out the window, looking at the officer. He then closed his door, ducked and accelerated,” the prosecutor said. “She fired her weapon. … He ran over her.”
Harris recounted the incident as such when officers arrested him near the scene on Monday. He said that he "drove at" Caprio right after the shot.
"He admitted that he partially opened the driver's door, but then shut it and drove at the officer," charging documents said.
According to authorities, the nabbed criminals are suspects in a series of burglaries in the vicinity. The other three who accompanied Harris are also being held in custody. However, their names have not been released yet. The teenager and the three other youths were stealing jewelry and cash from homes in Perry Hall when Caprio confronted Harris, according to officers.
Dahle Amendt, a resident who lives nearby, heard the incident take place.
He told The Associated Press: "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."
On Monday afternoon, some other witnesses described the incident saying Caprio marched towards the Jeep with her gun drawn.
"The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her," Tony Turek, whose son witnessed the incident, said.
Turek's son is a volunteer fighter. When he saw Caprio lying on the ground, he ran towards her to start CPR. Despite his efforts, Caprio was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly before 3 pm. Medical examiners determined her cause of death to be head and chest trauma.
As of now, it remains unclear if the shot that was heard came from one of the suspects or from the officer's firearm.
Baltimore County Police Cpl. Shawn Vinson said, "What exactly happened, we are not sure yet until an autopsy is performed."
After the encounter, the teen drove away. He reportedly ditched the vehicle about a block away and officers spotted him and nabbed him nearby. According to Prosecutor William Bickel, once Harris reached the police station, he tried to hide the car keys under his seat.
The arresting officers then continued to search for the three suspected burglars and even delayed the dismissal of a number of schools in the vicinity. Nearly 2,000 students were stranded for hours in their respective schools.
On Tuesday, authorities were still searching the neighborhood for evidence. A handgun was believed to be picked from one of the houses.
Prosecutors say that the teenagers' crime spree began in December. In the months that followed, Harris had stolen four cars, escaped from a juvenile center, and skipped a number of court dates.
Caprio was the first Baltimore County policewoman to be killed in the line of duty. On Tuesday, condolences came in from across Maryland, with aggrieved officers filling up the courtroom in Towson, where the alleged killer made his first appearance.
“In the last six months, no offense, but your client is a one-man crime wave,” District Judge Sally Chester said. “I’m not certain any juvenile facility is secure enough to hold him.”
While the trio evaded a statewide manhunt on Monday afternoon and evening, they were eventually arrested later at their respective homes in West Baltimore. Police said that charges are pending against them.
“We want to make sure it’s a good tight case,” Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan said.
Prosecutor Bickel said the teen was placed on house arrest in April and issued a monitoring bracelet. By mid-May, Harris had left home and his mother called authorities.
Dawnta, a former student at Baltimore's Excel Academy, had been on the run for more than a week.
The secretary of juvenile services, Sam Abed, said his team had tried to search for the teenager. They visited his school and even tried calling his mother.
“Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters and Baltimore County law enforcement for their loss,” Abed said. “We are in shock about the incident.”
In recent months, Caprio had neutralized a pair of suspected package thieves and was felicitated with the Parkville Precinct’s officer of the month award for March. She was due to celebrate her fourth anniversary with the force in a couple of months.
Scott D. Shellenberger, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney, said that under state laws, the other three could be charged with "felony murder" for being complicit in the crime.
“We believe that we have a solid theory to proceed on murder charges for all four of them,” Shellenberger said.
Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on Tuesday. Officials who are part of the county police union draped their office in black.