Witness Contradicts Police Account Of Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Virginia Woman In Church Parking Lot

There is a disputed shooting in Culpeper, Virginia where Patricia Cook, 54, was killed by an officer who said that she tried to drive away from a church parking lot while his arm was caught in the window. However, an eye witness has come forward to dispute that account and neighbors have questioned the need for lethal force against the unarmed woman.

Cook was parked in her Jeep Wrangler parked outside a church last Thursday morning when the officer appeared in response to a call about a suspicious woman. While she looked for her ID, the officer said that she closed the window on the officer’s arm and began to drive away. The officer fired through the window and the Jeep crashed. The officer was not injured.

A witness has come forward to say that he clearly saw the encounter and that the officer was not caught in the window when he fired. The statements of the carpenter offer the only independent account of the incident located thus far.

The dragging of an officer would generally be viewed as a threat to his life — justifying potentially lethal force. We have seen, however, controversies over accounts of such endangerment in past cases. Conversely, officers have been accused on dragging suspects in a reversal of such claims.

65 thoughts on “Witness Contradicts Police Account Of Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Virginia Woman In Church Parking Lot”

  1. UPDATE (2/15/2012):

    This story is picking up steam here in the Commonwealth. A special prosecutor has been assigned to the case with Culpepper County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Gary Close, recusing himself. Gary is an acquaintance from high school and known as a “straight arrow” as a prosecutor. I’m not surprised he asked for the special prosecutor, Jim Fisher, from Fauquier County — another experienced guy. The mayor acknowledged the apparent tragedy at the Town Council Meeting and asked for patience. The VA State police are redoubling their efforts. Contrary to what you may think, Virginia is not the Deep South and the officials involved are professional and typically dispassionate about their work. If this cop is found to be out-of-line, I think it will eventually come out at the Grand Jury stage. Here’s the statement from Police Chief Chris Jenkins and the Mayor quoted in the local newspaper:

    I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the recent loss of one of our local residents, Mrs. Patricia Cook,” said Jenkins. “The mayor has asked us to be patient and allow the Virginia State Police to conduct its investigation. At this time, the town police department can only await the results of the Virginia State Police investigation, and we ask that citizens do the same.”

    The town council also acknowledged the shooting at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

    “While we understand the frustrations of the community caused by the lack of information publicly available at this time, we ask that you please be patient and allow the Virginia State Police to conduct its investigation. This process could take several weeks or more, but we are encouraged by the significant amount of personnel and resources being assigned to this investigation,” said Culpepper mayor Chip Coleman.

    “From the onset, the Virginia State Police’s Shooting Investigation Team was assigned to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation. Additional forensic agents and supervisors are also assigned to the investigation to assist the shooting team, and they will remain involved until such time as the investigation is complete,” said Coleman. “We continue to keep those involved in the incident in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask those in the community to do the same.

    The eyewitness, Kris Buchele, is quoted as saying:

    “I was in total shock that he shot her. I didn’t see where he had any reason to shoot her,” said Buchele. “It didn’t look like he was stuck in any way. It looked like he was trying to open the door, he had his weapon out and he was sidestepping with the vehicle…any normal person could have walked alongside the vehicle.”


  2. wow! You can’t even go to the church without someone thinking your doing something wrong its why I stay away from church. I’ts not about God anymore it’s money. I hope that cop does some time he doesn’t deserve his badge.

  3. Seems like a revolution is the best use of our private weapons.
    Some say it was the FF’s intent.

    Surveillance, under the pretense of safeguarding our land, reeks of fear of armed dissent. Or use of freedom of speech or assembly or petition, etc.

    Some Obama enthusiast would point to his “tell us what you think is important” on-line port at WH.gov as being a good democracy opening.

    To me, it seems more a campaign poster project. Particularly when compared with the personnel expansion and the new systems and technologies committed to surveillance.

    Why now, you ask me? Trying to find something else, I ended reading again the Prof’s post summarizing how unfree we have become since 2001.
    Scary! AND IT WON’T GO AWAY. I can’t wake up. Can you???

  4. anon nurse

    no, there is no humor there. i can only imagine the girl thought she was in the safest place she could be.

    i can’t understand why anyone would carry a gun, loaded or otherwise into a church. or why anyone would carry a semi-auto with a round chambered.

    it’s too bad he didn’t shoot himself in the foot a long time ago. he might have learned something.

  5. The survivors should file a federal civil rights damage action, section 1983 suit now. Give notice to take video deposition of the witness when you serve the summons and send interrogatories and requests to admit facts at that time. Take the video deposition to preserve the witness testimony with full right of confrontation by the defendant cop. If the witness disappears then the evidence will be admissible in civil court and probably in criminal court.

  6. carol,

    I wonder what lying SOS agency will be able to provide the protection needed…. this is after all virginia…..

  7. If that witness goes into protective custody, I hope it is someplace out of State. I can’t believe there is anyplace in Virginia he’d be safe.

  8. pete,

    The perils of pinheads packin’…

    “The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told WTSP that church member Moises Zambrana, who works as a security guard, was in a closet showing two other men the safety features on his 9mm handgun. Although Zambrana had removed the clip, he had failed to remove the round in the chamber.”

    Very sad, about the girl… No humor there…

  9. i’m gonna go hang out somewhere safe, like a crack house. -pete

    Thanks for that, pete. lol…

  10. OK, maybe I chose the wrong issue to poster with. It was deemed in the blog as so low ranking that it was in the slush bucket at the bottom.
    But I chose to play the “poor them” card; pity, pity, pity on the welfare clients.
    But here, I believe, is one source which is truly dug out; and involves what the next surprise they are planning for us ALL…..you included.

    Take a look at least and then chop off my head.


  11. Would you folks, now I’m insulting, get your noses out of each other’s armpits and “whewing” at the local polis.

    Here INSTEAD is where you can find some BIG ASS ONES. You can’t conveniently disdain them. You have to meet them sometime

    So please read the rest and then go read at fas.org/blog/secrecy.

    PLEASE allow an off-thread post about an info site which seems worthwhile:


    This issue of the blog seems especially worthwhile on a number of issues.
    One “suspicion-less drug testing” for welfare recipients (federal) interested me. It is a Congressional Research Service report for members and staff of Congress. And for us too thanks to this blog, as public requests are reportedly denied.


    But check it out, it’s all from DoD IG new program on follow up of classification review, to Mil drones in our airspace, to almost you-name-it.
    I mean secrecy follows everything today.

  12. “I smell a Blue rat.” -rafflaw


    So do I… (Blue rat, royal rat… So many rats, so little time… 😉 )


    Gene H.

    “There is nothing about this that passes the smell test.”

    It reeks…

Comments are closed.