Patricia Cook was fatally shot by a Culpeper police officer on Feb. 9
Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright
CULPEPER, Va. -
People in Culpeper, Virginia didn't need to see the newspaper headline: Officer Indicted. They've been living this story since February, when unarmed, 54-year-old Patricia Cook was shot to death in her vehicle in the middle of town, after apparently driving away from a policeman who wanted to ask her questions.
"I heard the gunshots that morning," recalled Loni Pease, the owner and chef at The Stable restaurant. "I was out here in the back, cooking on the grill… there [were] a lot of shots fired"
Pease says locals had become impatient with the length of the investigation of the incident. "We waited and waited and waited to see what would happen." Nodding in agreement with the indictment of police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright on a murder charge, the restaurateur added, "Hopefully, justice will be served."
The investigation was conducted by the Commonwealth's Attorney from nearby Fauquier County.
Weirdly, the police officer's mother, Bethany Sullivan, or Orange, Virginia, who used to work as a secretary in the Culpeper Police Department, has been charged with "forging public records", in an alleged effort to cleanse negative information from her son's personnel file. That supposedly happened several years ago. People in town are buzzing over that news, also.
"Yeah, you know, if there was a history with this officer, and the police department – they tried to cover up these records – that's equally disturbing. And something needs to be done with it," said Tyler Hochstetler.
Everyone in town we spoke with thinks the officer's trial should not take place in Culpeper.
"To be honest, I think he didn't have the right to shoot," said town resident Rocky Powell. "If he's gonna shoot, he should have shot out the tires."
Asked if the policeman's trial should be help in Culpeper, Mary Buyna replied, "Definitely not. I think there are too many people that have very strong opinions [and] it will be very difficult to find a jury -- a fair jury."
The police officer is being held without bond. He will appear in court on June 8th.
His mother is out on bond. We were unable to reach her for reaction to her arrest and the arrest of her son.
Statement of Culpeper Mayor Chip Coleman on Officer's Indictment
"We asked the Virginia State Police for an unbiased and thorough investigation into the Feb. 9, shooting incident involving Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright during which Patricia Cook died. We got that from the state police, who along with the special prosecutor Jim Fisher and a special grand jury comprised of local citizens, devoted countless hours to the investigation.
If the allegations brought forth in the grand jury indictments are proven to be true, we as elected and government employees are equally saddened and disappointed. We share in the community's outrage and concern regarding the alleged action of this one officer.
We want the judicial process to run its course, while at the same time ask the community to join with us to help the healing process that requires all of us to work together so that your town can regain your trust.
It is important for us to realize that the alleged actions of one officer should not taint the hard work and dedicated efforts of the men and women who strive daily to protect our community and provide quality service to the public.
Due to Officer Harmon-Wright's indictment, he was immediately suspended without pay.
Upon completion of an internal investigation, disciplinary action will be taken, if appropriate."