Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright pleads not guilty - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright pleads not guilty in death of Patricia Cook

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Daniel Harmon-Wright Daniel Harmon-Wright
Daniel Harmon-Wright Daniel Harmon-Wright
Patricia Cook Patricia Cook
Bethany Sullivan Bethany Sullivan

A Culpeper police officer is free on $100,000 bond after pleading not guilty to murder and gun charges.

Media outlets report that 32-year-old Daniel Harmon-Wright entered his plea Friday in Culpeper County Circuit Court.

A grand jury indicted Harmon-Wright May 29.

Police have said Harmon-Wright was responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle in a church parking lot when he fatally shot 54-year-old Patricia A. Cook on Feb. 9.

Special prosecutor Jim Fisher said during Friday's hearing that Harmon-Wright fired seven shots. Two shots were fired at the driver's side window and the others were fired behind as Cook drove away.

The 32-year-old Harmon-Wright is an Iraq war veteran. He is a one-time Marine who grew up in Vienna, Va.

After the judge granted Harmon-Wright bond, the suspended officer's attorney spoke to reporters.

"This community will be safer when he's out," says Daniel Hawes. "He's not only not a danger. He's one of the most socially responsible people I've ever met."

Hawes says his client considered Patricia Cook a "fleeing felon" and shot her not only in self-defense, but to protect the community.

"She cut the wheels really sharp to try to run over him with the rear wheels," says Hawes. "And executed a left turn onto a public street all the time with a sunscreen up in her windshield. It was in the community's interest to have her stopped as quickly as possible."

In court, special prosecutors alleged Harmon-Wright has a history of abusing alcohol. They used that argument in their efforts to convince the judge to keep Wright locked up until trial. His attorney says they are seeking a change in venue.

Prosecutors say the Culpeper police sergeant and lieutenant who interviewed Harmon-Wright and conducted the background check six years ago recommended he not be hired. He was anyway.

Within six months, prosecutors say Harmon-Wright was officially reprimanded by the police chief. In one incident, prosecutors say Harmon-Wright and another officer entered a citizen's home without a warrant or probable cause and pulled guns in the process.

Officer Harmon-Wright's mother, Bethany Sullivan, a one-time administrative assistant to the Culpeper police chief, faces six felony charges of her own. She is accused of tampering with her son's personnel file.

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