By Meta Pettus
An eyewitness to a fatal police shooting in Culpeper, Virginia is contradicting the State Police version of the story. Kris Buchele says he saw a Culpeper Town Police officer shoot 54-year-old Patricia Cook to death in the Epiphany Catholic School parking lot at around 10 a.m. Thursday, February 9.
Buchele is a carpenter who was working on the house next door. He says he heard loud arguing outside and looked through a window where he had a clear view of the school parking lot. Cook was in her Jeep Wrangler.
State police say Cook rolled up the window, catching the officer’s arm inside, and then dragged him.
Buchele says it didn’t happen that way. He describes an encounter which looked and sounded like the officer shooting a person a point blank range, not because he feared for his life, but because the woman did not obey his order to stop rolling up the window.
“He was right next to the vehicle. He had one hand on the door handle and one hand on his weapon. And she was rolling the window up. And they were exiting out of the parkng lot.
The window was half way up he said ‘stop or I’ll shoot.’ I really didn’t think he was going to do it. But she got the window all the way up and that’s when he shot. And then she took a left out of the parking lot here and he stepped out in the street and fired five more times,” said Buchele.
Buchele says the officer was not dragged and that he shot her before she drove away. He says he didn’t have his arm caught because the officer’s left hand was on the door handle and right hand was holding a weapon. Also, he says he distinctly saw her roll up the window all the way before the officer shot out the glass and killed her.
“I’m angry, frustrated, sad, and fighting back tears right now, ” said Gary Cook, Pat’s husband of eight years. He doesn’t understand why a police officer would shoot his unarmed wife multiple times.
“Personally I think it may be an overreaction, maybe excessive force, but I can only surmise that,” Cook said.
Cook says he doesn’t know why his wife was in the parking lot of the Epiphany Catholic School. Their couple’s pastor at Culpeper United Methodist Church thinks she may have been there searching for work with children because she loved her volunteer role teaching Sunday school at their church.
Gary Cook is filled with questions along with grief over his wife’s killing. He is contacting an attorney to pursue possible legal action.
No charges have been filed. The Virginia State Police are investigating with the assistance of Culpeper Police and the Culpeper Sheriff’s Department.
Virginia State Police say that the police officer had his arm caught in her driver’s side window, and was dragged alongside the vehicle as she drove away.
According to Virginia State Police, at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, Culpeper Police got a call about a suspicious women sitting in a Jeep Wrangler in a church parking lot in the 300 block of North East Street. The officer started talking to Patricia A. Cook, 54, of Culpeper. State police say that for some reason, while the officer was trying to get her identification, Cook “suddenly closed her driver’s side window trapping the officer’s arm and started driving away dragging the officer alongside.”