PERRY HALL, Md. (WJZ) — Lawyers for one of the teens accused of killing Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio said he panicked and did not intentionally kill the officer.
Warren Brown and J. Wyndel Gordon, two prominent Baltimore area attorneys who announced they are representing 16-year-old Dawnta Harris pro bono, also want the officer’s body camera footage to be released so they can have all the information.
“He’s not a killer,” Brown said of Harris. “He panicked” when Caprio drew her gun.
They said the teen was “ducking” in the Jeep when he tried to drive away, but instead, the Jeep struck and killed Caprio in the process.
Court documents state Harris told investigators he “drove at” Caprio.
Gordon said if Harris hadn’t ducked, the shot from Caprio’s gun would have killed him and “we’d be talking about an officer-involved shooting instead.”
“We want to know why Officer Caprio found it necessary to draw her weapon on a 16-year-old,” he said. “We want to know why she fired a shot into the front windshield.”
The lawyers said Harris, who they described as “puny” and a “boy” did not know the three other teens were allegedly burglarizing a home and was scared when he was confronted by the officer in the unit block of Linwen Way Monday.
Harris’ mother, Tanika Wilson, sobbed at the press conference Thursday, saying she tried to do everything she could to get her son back on the right track.
She said she called juvenile services and asked them to detain her son, “so nothing like this would happen.”
Wilson said her son was a regular 15-year-old until December when he was first arrested. That’s when things “took a turn.” He got into the wrong environment and wrong crowd, she said.
Harris had a rap sheet that included at least four stolen cars. The Jeep used to run down Caprio was also stolen, according to county police.
Wilson, a single mother, said she spent time walking the streets, knocking on doors, “fussing” with other parents and texting him to locate her son.
The Sunday before the incident, Wilson said she had a feeling she wanted to find her son.
“This situation is sad all the way around, a person has lost their life…” Wilson added through tears.
Harris’ mother, who has a four-year-old daughter, said she didn’t get much support from Harris’ father and she was on her own, but always tried to provide for her children.
“He know right from wrong. Don’t get me wrong, he know,” Wilson said, adding “our lives changed in a split second.”
She said it was the hardest thing for her to try to turn her own son in when he skipped out on house arrest.
“If I could have just found my son, she would still be here and my son would be here with me,” she said. “I’m truly sorry for the actions that my son did.”
“I don’t know what was in his mind at the time,” the teen’s mother cried. “I don’t know I wasn’t there.”
Caprio’s viewing will be held Thursday evening and her funeral will be on Friday.