Harmon-Wright testimony: I shot Patricia Cook to protect public

Closing arguments in the trial of a former police officer accused of killing a Culpeper woman are scheduled to begin Monday.

The defendant, Daniel Harmon-Wright, took the stand on Friday, before the defense rested its case in Culpeper Circuit Court. Harmon-Wright told jurors he was trying to protect the public when he shot 54-year-old Patricia Cook in February 2012.

The officer had been called to a report of a suspicious vehicle in a Culpeper parking lot. When he approached the Jeep Wrangler, he asked Cook for her driver’s license, but the pair struggled over it and Cook rolled up a window on his hand. She then began driving.

Harmon-Wright contends he couldn’t get his arm free and feared for his safety, so he shot the window out and then fired five more shots into the car as she drove away. Cook died at the scene.

Prosecutors and witnesses who testified this week said Harmon-Wright’s arm was never stuck and he recklessly fired on Cook when he was not in danger.

Jurors also visited the scene of the shooting on Friday.

Harmon-Wright’s trial began on Tuesday.

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