Police Abuse

Town of Culpeper Settles With Family of Woman Who Was Killed by Cop, Claims of Wrongful Hiring, Retention Dismissed with Prejudice

Settled for an undisclosed amount


killed by cop
family photo

Almost two years ago in Culpeper, Virginia, Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright shot and killed Patricia Ann Cook in a parking lot outside of a private school. That now former cop is serving three years in jail after being convicted of manslaughter for the killing of Cook. Cook's family also sought to bring a civil suit against Harmon-Wright for Cook's death, as well as against the former police chief, for wrongfully hiring Harmon-Wright, and the current police chief, for wrongfully retaining him. In a settlement reached between Cook's family and Culpepper, the claims against the police chiefs will be dismissed with prejudice, while an undisclosed amount will be paid for the claim against Harmon-Wright for wrongful death. The suit was originally brought by Cook's husband, against Harmon-Wright alone, but the husband died shortly after of natural causes, and the lawsuit was picked up by Cook's brother, who also added the claims against the two police officers. The family attorney, Greg Webb, explained why they chose to settle, via the Culpeper Star-Exponent:

"The family has devoted significant time and energy into trying to make sure that the important questions presented in this case were answered," Webb said. "However, a case like this carries a heavy human cost to the family, especially when those at fault refuse to acknowledge their role and fight every step of the way.

"Rather than allowing for closure and peaceful grieving, it requires continued revisiting of the horrific loss and turns the victims into targets themselves," the attorney said.

Pat Cook's mother, Mrs. Weigler, is nearly 76 years old and in poor health, Webb said.

Had the wrongful death suit in Cook's death been decided by a jury, "We are confident that the citizens of Culpeper would have recognized that though Harmon-Wright pulled the trigger [and] he was not the only one responsible for this tragedy," Webb said.

Several significant legal hurdles stood in the way of the cases against Jenkins and Boring, he added, so much so that it would have continued the civil litigation for years to come.

"The family believes that this settlement, at this time, is in their best interests, as well as the best interests of Pat's memory," Webb said. "From the beginning, this lawsuit was about seeking justice for Pat and answers for Culpeper. To some degree, that was recently obtained in the actions of those concerned by agreeing to a settlement."

The ability to wait out a lawsuit is one advantage governments always have in avoiding accountability in court. If the amount being paid by the town's insurance company remains undisclosed, residents will never know just how much poor police hiring practices and training policies cost them. And nothing else will happen.

Previous Reason on the killing of Patricia Cook here, here, and here.

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  1. Has it at all been explained why the shooter did what he did?

  2. I’m amazed the cop went to the slammer, to be honest.

    1. Popped in to say exactly that.

  3. Can a citizen of Culpeper file an FOIA to get the amount this is costing them? Can they sue to get that information released? Surely as a taxpayer they’ve got standing.

  4. Now that Ezra Klein has been tragically let go, I feel that we should relive one of his finer moments:

    Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

    1. You know that when he wrote that, his feverish brain was fantasizing how it would be a paragraph for the history books.


      1. If you add some carefully placed ellipses and cut off the last half of the paragraph, his comment is very accurate.

        Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire…They enmesh you in…despair.

    2. Ezra Klein Schei?emusik

      1. “Schiess”
        Hmm, I don’t think I even need to look up a translation…

    3. Irish|1.21.14 @ 10:41PM|#
      “Now that Ezra Klein has been tragically let go”

      Yes, in my neighborhood, there’s a candle-light vigil held for, uh, well…
      Now that I check, it seems to be a missing puddy-cat.

    4. That’s truly inspired prose. But how did he manage to type that one handed while his other hand furiously masturbated?

    5. Have to admit to some ignorance here as the guy was peripheral to most of the sources I use.
      Just now did a Bing search and it’s changing as the hits come in. The first link when I checked was an article about how “Obamacare is Winning!” dated 2010. When I refreshed, that was gone and now I find he was the WaPo Econ columnist?!
      With that collection of O-ass-licking above and the claim in 2010 that O-care was winning?!
      Hope the unemployment benes are short-termed where he lives.

      1. He’s starting his own website. Given Klein’s gross incompetence, Bezos’ clear lack of faith in him, and the fact that he does not seem particularly hardworking I seriously doubt this venture is going to go well.

        1. I used to think Bezos was a real jerk last century but giving Balko and Volokh a regular byline in the WaPo is way cool.

    6. He sounds like a teenage girl describing the first orgasm she read about in a book.

  5. Reposted from a dead thread


  6. Sherlock MOVIE?

    1. The only season a non-HBO show should ever be adapted into a movie is for the purpose of adding nudity.

  7. If the amount being paid by the town’s insurance company remains undisclosed, residents will never know just how much poor police hiring practices and training policies cost them. And nothing else will happen.

    On one hand I understand where you’re coming from. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can blame the families for settling. The entire time, their loved one is being trashed in public with a largely sympathetic media looking for any excuse they can find to exonerate “our boys in blue”. Meanwhile, you’re that “troublemaker” who the police are going to give no quarter and tail any chance they can get. At a certain point, the logic of just taking the money, getting the hell out of Dodge, and moving on with your life has got to be pretty persuasive.

    1. Agreed.
      They’re due a kilo of flesh, but the cost is entirely too high. Take the pound and let it go.
      But, damn it, 3 years for the cop? Some brown kid with a spiff gets ten times that.

    2. I don’t disagree. It’s the sad reality.

  8. Uh oh Rafa

  9. The headline says the suits against the chiefs were dismissed with prejudice, the story says without. Which was it? I can see where the town would not want to agree to without, but a basic sense of justice would leave the door open to further evidence coming to light.

    1. With. Corrected. Thanks.

    1. Wait a minute! Butt sex! Butt sex requires a lot of lubrication, right? Lubrication. Lubruh… Chupuh… Chupacabra’s the, the goat killer of Mexican folklore. Folklore is stories from the past that are often fictionalized. Fictionalized to heighten drama. Drama students! Students at colleges usually have bicycles! Bi, bian, binary. It’s binary code!

    2. Apparently the story was originally posted on David Icke’s forum. If you’ve never heard of him, and you find conspiracy thinking fascinating, spend some time reading his stuff. He makes Jim Marrs look sane.

  10. Kinda wondering why so many commenters here feel the need to lie about the Ezra Klein story. He wasn’t “fired” by anyone. He made a proposal to the Post and they declined. So now he is creating his own venture. I understand the concept of schadenfreude ? pathetic as it is ? but this is clearly a case of one individual moving forward with a career change. For that, he is mocked by libertarians? So silly.

    For nearly five years, the Post has steered a bounty of financial resources to its star economics columnist and blogger. It has allowed him to have a contributor deal with MSNBC, a column with Bloomberg View, and to write long-form for The New Yorker. It has provided him with eight staffers to keep Wonkblog, his popular policy vertical, flowing with up-to-the-minute charts and analysis. The PR department has promoted him in profile upon profile. Now, Klein is set to take his talents elsewhere. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog account tweeted the announcement Tuesday that he is leaving: “It’s official: Ezra is leaving the Post. Hoping for the best for him.”

  11. “but the husband diesd”

    Spellcheck? Editors?

  12. Guys with hyphenated last names: That’s enough on its own to send him to prison.

  13. Any body also strange why the cop went to the slammer?

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