(BALTIMORE) — A Baltimore teenager was sentenced to life in prison for running over a police officer with a stolen Jeep and fleeing the scene.
Dawnta Harris, 17, was convicted of felony murder in the death of Baltimore County Police Department Officer Amy Caprio, who was fatally struck in May 2018 after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle.
The 29-year-old officer parked her patrol car and ordered Harris to get out of the vehicle when Harris pressed on the gas and came speeding straight at her. She drew her weapon, yelled for him to stop and fired a single shot before she was hit, according to body camera footage.
Police said Harris initially complied with the officer’s commands to exit the Jeep, but he got back in and quickly accelerated, driving toward and striking Caprio. She suffered broken ribs and injuries to internal organs, authorities said.
Harris did not speak in court on Wednesday, but his attorney said he reacted out of fear due to the gun being aimed at him and said he never intended to kill the officer, according to ABC’s Baltimore affiliate WMAR.
“I am truly sad, heartbroken and sorry for what happened,” Harris wrote in a letter read aloud by his attorney. “We are still young. No one is perfect.”
Caprio and her husband, Tim Caprio, celebrated their third wedding anniversary just days before her death. They were planning to celebrate their birthdays a few days later.
“I go home to an empty house knowing no one will every come home,” Tim Caprio told the court on Wednesday. “There is a massive hole and feeling of emptiness in my heart that will never go away.”
After the sentencing, he told reporters that he felt justice had been served.
Caprio’s father agreed.
“I believe justice was appropriately served. However, it doesn’t fill that feeling that I miss and that hole in my heart,” he said. “There’s no winners at this point. What we see is a validation that there are consequences for actions,” the slain officer’s father, Garry Sorrells, added.
Harris was charged as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder with the possibility of parole.
Three other teens — Eugene Robert Genius, Derrick Eugene Matthews, and Darrell Jaymar Ward — pleaded guilty to felony murder in the case and are slated for sentencing next month. Police said Harris had been watching for police on the street while the others were inside burglarizing a home.
Harris’ defense team, which said it plans to appeal the ruling, had asked for a sentence of 30 years, which would be in line with what the other teens are facing.
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