On Sunday, police in Baltimore County, Maryland, wore black mourning bands on their badges to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of one of their own. Officer Amy Caprio was responding to a 911 call of a burglary in progress west of U.S. Highway 1 near Perry Hall when she confronted the driver of a stolen Jeep, who ran over her — a death captured on the officer’s bodycam video. Her death highlighted the problems in a juvenile justice system that endangers public safety by failing to incarcerate repeat offenders.
The criminal behind the wheel of the stolen Jeep was 16-year-old Dawnta Harris, who had a long history with the Department of Juvenile Services:On May 21, 2018, Officer Amy Sorrells Caprio, 29, responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle in the Nottingham/Perry Hall area. A second call confirmed that a home was being burglarized by four suspects associated with the suspicious vehicle, which was later determined to be a stolen Jeep Wrangler. When she arrived and located the vehicle, she got out of her police car and ordered the driver to exit the vehicle. Instead, the driver accelerated and fatally struck Officer Caprio.
December 29, 2017 – Dawnta Harris is charged as a juvenile for Auto Theft and related felonies in Baltimore City. Released to mother pending trial.
January 14, 2018 – Harris charged as a juvenile for Auto Theft in Baltimore City. Placed on Electronic Monitoring by DJS until court hearing the next day.
January 15, 2018 – Baltimore City Juvenile Court removes Electronic Monitoring requirement and releases Harris to his mother.
February 18, 2018 – Harris charged as a juvenile for Auto Theft and related felonies in Baltimore City, placed by court on Electronic Monitoring in the community.
February 26, 2018 – Harris goes into AWOL status from Electronic Monitoring.
March 2, 2018 – An adjudication hearing is held with Harris present. Baltimore City Juvenile Court sustained one Auto Theft charge from December 29, 2017 arrest, dismisses all charges from January 14, 2018 and February 18, 2018 arrests. Court orders youth placed into non-secure shelter facility in Montgomery County and into Community Detention/Electronic Monitoring.
March 13, 2018 – DJS is notified of Harris’ arrest regarding possible involvement in car theft in Montgomery County. Harris is returned from the shelter in Montgomery County and brought to Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center for secure detention.
March 14, 2018 – Placement hearing held for Harris in Baltimore City Juvenile Court. Based on a standardized public safety risk assessment score, DJS recommends day and evening reporting and Community Detention/Electronic Monitoring. Court releases Harris from Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center and sends him to a non-secure shelter in Catonsville.
March 20, 2018 – Harris is charged as a juvenile for Auto Theft in Montgomery County that occurred on March 12, 2018. DJS intake in Montgomery County sends Auto Theft charge to State’s Attorney for formal processing.
March 29, 2018 – Baltimore City Juvenile Court holds disposition (sentencing) hearing. Disposition was continued to April 16, 2018. Court continued Harris in the structured shelter but released him from Community Detention/Electronic Monitoring.
April 16, 2018 – Harris fails to appear for disposition hearing at Baltimore City Juvenile Court. Court issues writ so that Harris can be apprehended by police and brought in.
April 17, 2018 – Harris arrested and detained on writ. Court holds detention hearing where DJS recommends, due to public safety risk, that Harris be securely detained at Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. Court orders the secure placement and schedules a detention review for May 10, 2018.
May 10, 2018 – Court holds detention review hearing, which does not include DJS participation. Court releases Harris from detention and places him on Community Detention/Electronic Monitoring where he is required to engage in a day and evening reporting center.
May 10 to May 13, 2018 – DJS maintains contact with Harris while he is on Community Detention/Electronic Monitoring.
May 14 to May 16, 2018 – Harris goes into AWOL status. DJS makes multiple attempts to re-engage Harris via cell phone and visits to his home. DJS workers remain in regular contact with Harris’ mother, who states she does not know where he is. DJS workers meet with Harris and his mother on May 15 to discuss behavior and non-compliance.
May 17, 2018 – DJS Director of Community Detention directs that the community detention violation be referred to juvenile court. DJS confers with Harris’ mother, who agrees to be present the following day for a court hearing
May 18, 2018 – Baltimore City Juvenile Court holds hearing with Harris’ mother, DJS workers, State’s Attorney, and Public Defender present. Harris was on AWOL status and not present at hearing. Court did not make a detention decision due to questions raised by the public defender regarding whether Harris had proper notice and continued the matter to Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Dawnta Harris' Defense Attorney: 'This is a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time'
Well, he should have been in jail by then, so, sort of. I imagine things have only gotten worse since then.