Patricia Cook shooting: Husband files wrongful death lawsuit

Cook was shot and killed during a traffic stop in early February. (Family photo)

The husband of a Culpeper woman who was shot and killed by a Culpeper Police officer in February is seeking millions of dollars in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of Gary Cook on May 11 in Culpeper County Circuit Court, seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages from the detective who shot and killed Patricia Cook on Feb. 9.

For the first time since the shooting, the suit identifies the officer involved in the shooting as Daniel W. Harmon-Wright, aka Daniel W. Sullivan. Cook and his legal team claim in the suite that the detective's actions "constituted an utter disregard of caution amounting to a complete neglect of the safety of another person."

Harmon-Wright is a five year member of the force and former Marine. No one answered the door at Harmon-Wright's Gainesville home.

Cook, 54, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Culpeper in mid-February. Police say that Cook tried to drive away with the officer's arm caught in the door. Officials said on the day of the shooting that Harmon-Wright was talking to Cook when she closed the driver's side window suddenly while trying to get her identification.

State police say Cook drove off with the officer's arm trapped in the window and refused his commands to stop. He then shot her and the vehicle wrecked. Witnesses, though, disputed the official account of what happened.

The lawsuit alleges: "When Harmon-Wright drew his gun and fired, Mrs. Cook was not endangering his life...or any other person." Cook did not have a weapon.

Virginia State Police investigators have not released any findings since to determine if the shooting was considered justified.

The victim's husband, Gary Cook is not allowed to speak publicly about this case but a day after the shooting, he said this about his wife: "She was unarmed, about the biggest thing she had on her was her purse."

His attorney, J. Gregory Webb, provided a statement on behalf of Mr. Cook "We're extremely frustrated in how this has played out and how long it has taken. There may be very good reasons for the delay but three months is a very long time."

$350,000 is the maximum amount that can be requested in punitive damages in Virginia.

In early April, a prosecutor appointed to investigate the shooting asked a judge to convene a grand jury.

05-11-12 Complaint - File Stamped