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Officer Indicted For Murder Has Local Ties

Questions remain in fatal shooting of motorist by Culpeper policeman, a graduate of Madison High

Culpeper Police Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright was indicted this week by a special grand jury on a murder charge stemming from a confrontation that ended in the death of a female motorist in February — a finding rare in other cases nationwide of officers acting in the line of duty.

The Washington Post reported Harmon-Wright, 32, of Gainesville, was also indicted on charges of malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Witnesses offer different accounts of what happened Feb. 9, when Patricia Cook, 54, of Culpeper was pronounced dead after allegedly being shot by Harmon-Wright five times, the Post reported.

Harmon-Wright was responding to a call about a suspicious woman sitting in a parked Jeep Wrangler outside the Epiphany Catholic School, according to the Huffington Post.

Virginia State Police said "while attempting to retrieve her identification, the woman suddenly closed her driver's side window trapping the officer's arm and started driving away dragging the officer alongside," the Huffington Post reported.

Some witnesses said they saw Harmon-Wright stop Cook's vehicle and then begin yelling when she rolled up the window. His fingers were trapped in the window, Cook dragging him along the road as she drove away, accelerating and quickly braking over the span of about 50 feet. He fired shots when she wouldn't stop her Jeep, they said.

The prosecution argued Harmon-Wright wasn't actually trapped or dragged. Some of its witnesses say the car began moving first, with Harmon-Wright yelling "Stop or I'll shoot" before firing at point-blank range, with more shots than may have been necessary.

Harmon-Wright, whom the Post says graduated from in 1998, joined the Culpeper force in 2006.

For the full story from the Post, click here.

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