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BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Patricia Cook's family hopes the indictment and arrest of Culpeper town police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright will be the first step in finding out what actually happened the morning the 54-year-old woman was fatally shot.
"We were pleased to learn of the special grand jury's actions last night, which we hope will lead to answers and justice," her husband, Gary Cook, said in a statement released Wednesday by his attorney's office.
"This indictment is an important early step in obtaining the answers we so desperately seek to help understand why Patty was taken from us."
After a six-week grand jury investigation, Harmon-Wright was charged with one count of murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He turned himself in to the state police Tuesday night and is being held without bond pending a court appearance June 8.
Harmon-Wright, a five-year veteran of the town force, shot and killed Cook on the morning of Feb. 9 after a confrontation in a Catholic preschool parking lot.
The state police, who initially investigated the incident, issued a statement the day after the shooting saying that Cook had rolled up her car window, catching the officer's arm and causing him to be dragged. But Cook's husband said later that the Jeep had no power windows, and a witness said he saw the officer with his service pistol in one hand and his other hand on the vehicle's door handle.
Fauquier County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Fisher was appointed special prosecutor several days later. In early April, he requested that a special grand jury be impaneled to investigate.
"The efforts of the special grand jury in investigating Officer Harmon-Wright's actions and, in the process, delivering additional related indictments against his mother, are a perfect example of the power of the citizens of Culpeper to deliver unbiased, reasoned and deliberative justice," Gary Cook said in his statement. "We are forever grateful to those 11 citizens for putting their lives on hold to so doggedly pursue the truth."
Harmon-Wright's mother, Bethany Sullivan, 55, of Orange, was police Chief Dan Boring's secretary when her son, an Iraq veteran, was hired. She has been charged with three counts of uttering and three counts of forgery of public documents in what authorities allege was an attempt to purge Harmon-Wright's personnel file of negative information.
"We want to make clear that we do not view the actions of Officer Harmon-Wright, or those alleged of his mother, as being reflective of police or law enforcement generally," Cook said in his statement. "The vast majority of those who serve our community do so honorably, and the actions of the few should not taint the dignity of the many."
Gary Cook filed a $5.35 million civil suit against Harmon-Wright May 11.