Dawnta Anthony Harris, 16, didn't kill Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio. Instead, he simply "drove away from danger," according to his attorneys.
Warren Brown and J. Wyndal Gordon, attorneys for Harris, as well as Harris' mother, held a news conference Thursday in which they protested against charges that Harris murdered Caprio, 29 and a four-year veteran of the force.
Caprio was killed when Harris reportedly drove at her in a black Jeep as she responded to a suspicious vehicle call, which turned out to be a purported burglary in progress involving Harris and three teen accomplices.
A statement from the Baltimore County Police reported that 16-year-old Harris was charged as an adult with first-degree murder. His three accomplices were arrested the following day.
During the news conference, Harris's attorneys asked the Maryland's state's attorney's office to release Caprio's bodycam footage in order to prove their client's story that Caprio's death was an "accident."
"This was not an intentional killing," Gordon said. "It was not deliberate. It was not premeditated. This was an accident. And that’s how we feel about it."
Harris's attorneys also added that their client didn't even have a motive for purportedly fatally striking Caprio with the Jeep, despite his being on various iterations of house arrest and having been arrested four times in the last six months.
"People are making a lot of assumptions,” Brown explained. "They’re assuming that this young man stole the car, and they’re assuming that he drove it from Baltimore. … They’re assuming he knew that the three that got out of the car were going to burglarize a home."
Did the teen know about the planned burglary?
According to detectives, Harris reportedly said that he wasn't aware that the trio he was traveling with had a burglary planned, and handed over their identities though they'd fled the scene prior to police arrival.
“[Harris] drove away from danger," Brown explained, noting that Caprio had reportedly pulled a gun on Harris prior to him purportedly fatally striking Caprio with the vehicle.
"They make it sound like he drove at her,” Brown explained.
“It’s not to say that he should be patted on the back for that," he countered, "but I think we need to put things in the correct perspective — he ain’t a killer."
"He’s a kid that panicked when a gun was put in his face," Brown said, adding that he'd like to know why it was necessary that Caprio pulled a gun on his client to begin with.
"This was an extremely tragic accident," Brown qualified, "and it’s not lost on any of us out here that a police officer lost her life in the line of duty. It’s not lost on any of us. But we want to know why Officer Caprio felt it necessary to draw her weapon on a 16-year-old child."