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Deputies block traffic so jurors on a school bus can visit the scene of the fatal shooting by an officer there last year.
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BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Former Culpeper town police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright, taking the stand in his own defense Friday, summed up his feelings about shooting and killing 54-year-old Patricia Ann Cook in a single statement.
"I don't feel good about. I wish it didn't happen. But it did happen and, given the circumstances, I would have done it again," he said of the Feb. 9 shooting outside Epiphany Catholic School.
Harmon-Wright was the third and final defense witness. Closing arguments are scheduled Monday morning, with the jury expected to begin deliberations afterward.
The former officer, who was fired after being indicted in Cook's death, testified Friday that he initially shot Cook twice in the school parking lot in an effort to free his left arm and hand from her Jeep Wrangler's window, which he said she had rolled up and used to trap and drag him.
He then stated that he fired five more shots at the rear of Cook's vehicle as she tried to drive off in order to do his duty as a police officer and protect the public.
"If I allowed her to continue down the road, she might strike and kill someone else," Harmon-Wright told the jury. "She had just assaulted me."
The ex-officer asserted that, as she attempted to drive off after being shot in the face and arm, Cook tried to sideswipe him with her vehicle.
"She made a sharp turn [out of the parking lot], was accelerating toward me and came within an arm's distance," Harmon-Wright said.
During cross-examination, special prosecutor Jim Fisher asked the defendant why he had made no mention of the sideswiping attempt to Virginia State Police Special Agent Richard Shivley during an interview videotaped about two hours after the incident.
And Fisher asked why Harmon-Wright had also failed to mention the "jerking motions" of the Jeep that he said Cook made to throw him from her running board while his hand was trapped.
Harmon-Wright said that he probably failed to do so because he was very emotional at the time he was questioned.