Tribute – Travesty in Maryland

Travesty in Maryland
By Joel E. Gordon

“If it’s predictable it’s preventable”- Gordon Graham

The senseless and preventable murder of Baltimore County Maryland Officer Amy Caprio hit especially close to home for me. The 29-year-old officer was born in the year before my oldest daughter, with both graduating from the same Maryland high school.

Caprio, a four-year police veteran, responded to a call for a suspicious vehicle and a burglary in progress in a suburban Baltimore County neighborhood.

She arrived and saw a black Jeep. Caprio got out of her car and ordered the driver of the Jeep to get out.

The officer’s body camera video reportedly shows a clear view of her standing in the street as the vehicle comes at her. She fired one shot and got hit by the vehicle and was thrown. The 16-year-old driver later admitted that he “Drove at the officer.”

Four teenage suspects have all been apprehended and charged as adults. Most egregious, the 16-year-old driver of the stolen Jeep had been charged with a series of carjackings, including stealing the Jeep that police say was used to kill officer Caprio. The 16-year-old charged with murdering the Baltimore County Police Officer was supposed to be on house arrest at the time, but it’s not clear why he wasn’t behind bars. He was detained on April 17, but according to the Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services he was released on May 10 without the department’s knowledge.

Maryland Juvenile Services said the court acted with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney and the public defender to let him out on house arrest. Marilyn Mosby, the same State’s Attorney responsible for charging officers in the Freddie Gray case, has now denied responsibility for the 16-year-old’s release.

What is clear is that if the 16-year-old murderer had been incarcerated, Officer Caprio would not have been run over by him. With a history of carjackings and further acts of violence, this should have been a predictable outcome and hence was certainly preventable. Prosecutors said the driver had been arrested four times for auto theft since December of 2017. It was while under house arrest and wearing an ankle bracelet that police say the 16-year-old stole the black Jeep used to kill Officer Caprio.

Conversely, although no one was shot, what if the shot that Officer Caprio fired would’ve hit and killed the perpetrator? Would the uninformed be decrying about how she’d killed an unarmed child? I feel compelled to make this point on her behalf and in her memory.

Of course, this wasn’t a nameless officer in a blue uniform. Baltimore County police described Caprio in a statement, saying: “Officer Caprio was a 29-year-old woman who loved her family, her husband, and her dog, Doodle. She loved the outdoors, mountain biking on the new bike she recently bought, and kayaking with her husband. She was a dog lover, making sure to have a leash and dog treats on hand when she went out on patrol – just in case. She and her husband were scheduled to begin a week of vacation this weekend to celebrate their third wedding anniversary and both of their upcoming birthdays.

“Officer Caprio graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Exercise Science in 2010 with the intention of becoming a physical therapist, but found her true passion became police work. She graduated from the Baltimore County Police Department’s Police Academy on December 23, 2014 as a member of our 140th recruit class. Officer Caprio’s supervisor, Lieutenant Chemelli, stated today, ‘It was an honor to be her supervisor. I can personally say that she had a work ethic like no other. She truly loved being a police officer and helping others – this was her passion and definitely her calling. She made the ultimate sacrifice doing a job that she loved. She will be greatly missed by our shift and will forever be our hero.’ A sentiment resonating with all of her police family today.”

The following was found on Facebook (original author unknown):

“You may notice when an officer dies a black band is placed across the badge as a sign of mourning and respect for the officer lost. It is a simple item. Typically it’s just a small piece of black elastic. But elastic is resilient. No matter how many times it is stretched out, it appears to return to its normal state, ready to do the job again when asked, just like our brotherhood. But small changes do occur. It is never quite the same. It becomes modified, adjusted, changed, if ever so slightly. So is our brotherhood. With every life lost, we are impacted immediately and forever changed.”
Rest in peace, Amy Caprio, your sacrifice and dedicated service will not be forgotten.

Joel E. Gordon is a former Field Training Officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and is a former Chief of Police for the city of Kingwood, West Virginia. He has also served as vice-chair of a regional narcotics task force. An award-winning journalist, he is author of the book Still Seeking Justice: One Officer’s Story and founded the Facebook group Police Authors Seeking Justice. Look him up at stillseekingjustice.com