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Date published: 1/25/2013
Daniel Harmon-Wright's countenance fell noticeably when Epiphany Catholic School office manager Anne Schuyler testified Thursday that the former Culpeper town police officer did not have his hand trapped in the window of Patricia Ann Cook's vehicle when he fired his first shot at the 54-year-old woman.
Her testimony--and that of handyman Kris Buchele, another eyewitness--directly contradicted Harmon-Wright's version of the Feb. 9 incident that left Cook dead and the officer facing a murder charge.
Schuyler's office is located at Precious Blood Catholic Church, half a block from the school. She was summoned to the school annex on North East Street by school personnel who had seen Cook's Jeep Wrangler parked in the school lot.
Because there was a sun shield over the windshield, Schuyler said she could not see inside at first. But, upon walking to the passenger-side window, she saw a woman with her eyes closed.
"I told her this was private property and asked her to move on, but she just looked straight ahead and rolled the window up," Schuyler said.
Schuyler said when Cook did not leave, she called police.
She testified that Harmon-Wright arrived a few minutes later and walked to Cook's car window. Schuyler, who had gone into the school to make the call, said she then waited outside on the school steps.
She said she saw the driver's-side window, which was down about six inches at first, go up, at which time she heard Harmon-Wright say in an elevated voice, "Ma'am, you're required to show me the documents I've asked for."
"Was the officer ever trapped or dragged?" asked special prosecutor Jim Fisher.
"No," Schuyler replied.
"Was Cook's vehicle pointed at him?"
Again Schuyler replied, "No."
Instead, the office manager testified that Cook--her windshield still obscured by the sun shield--began to slowly move her Jeep forward. When she did, Harmon-Wright jumped on the running board and rode for about 10 feet before jumping off, she said.
Then, Schuyler testified, he ran after the vehicle, which appeared to be attempting to exit the parking lot, and jumped on the running board again, this time grabbing the side mirror with his left hand.
"I'll shoot! I'll shoot!" Schuyler said the officer yelled as the Jeep approached the northernmost parking-lot exit. "Then he spun around facing me, his hand on the mirror" and shot out Cook's window, she said.