CULPEPER, Va. (WUSA) - Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright has been on paid administrative leave from the Culpeper Police Department since he shot Patricia Cook on February 9th. WUSA 9 talked to to Officer Harmon-Wright at his apartment in Gainesville.
Daniel Harmon Wright spoke to us behind his apartment door, but he Culpeper Police officer would only open the door after we agreed to turn off our camera and put down our cell phones.
He opened the door and told us he could not comment on why he fired at 54 year old Patricia Cook, who was unarmed sitting in her Jeep Wrangler in a school parking lot. He asked us to call his attorney.
The officer's attorney, Daniel Hawes from Virginia Legal Defense, said his client is standing by his original claim, that Patricia Cook caught his arm in her window and was beginning to drag him. He says the shooting was justifiable because he had a reasonable belief that he faced imminent serious bodily injury.
But Patty Cook's widower Gary Cook doesn't buy it. His wife's Wrangler had crank windows. He says if she was rolling up the window, the officer could have and should have removed his arm.
Cook's Attorney Greg Webb says if Harmon-Wright did put his arm inside Patricia Cook's vehicle, that it would have been against police procedure.
Cook's $5.35 million wrongful lawsuit against Wright Harmon is mostly based on witness Kris Buchele's account who says the officer's arm was not caught and he wasn't being dragged.
Buchele is the only known witness to the shooting itself, says Webb. But, he says Buchele's account matches the evidence. Webb says other witnesses say Harmon-Wright did not appear to be injured at all.
The lawsuit accuses Harmon-Wright of deliberate and cruel use of excessive force.
Cook's attorney says Harmon-Wright has not been served the lawsuit yet, because they are formulating some direct questions to ask of Officer Wright.
Harmon-Wright changed his last name from Sullivan in 2010. Reportedly, he wanted to drop his adopted name to reflect his blood-line. He is a former Marine who lived on base at Camp Pendleton in California for several years. He's married and has a baby.
Gary Cook is a disabled Vietnam veteran who has limited hearing. Webb says Patty Cook was everything to Gary Cook and that he is now very lonely and sad. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and in punitive damages: $350,000, the maximum allowed under state law.