Investigation Continues Into Officer-Involved Shooting
CULPEPER, Va. (WUSA) - State police say Kris Buchele changed his story about what he saw Thursday morning when a five-year Culpeper police officer shot and killed 54-year-old Patricia Cook. Buchele says he told state police and reporters the same thing...then and now... that the officer's arm was not stuck in Cook's window and he was never dragged.
WITNESS: OFFICER NOT DRAGGED BEFORE SHOOTING
"His left hand was on the door handle and his right hand was on his gun, they were close together, you know. " says Buchele. He says he never saw the officer arm in the window. He says he heard the officer shout, "Stop, or I'll shoot!" and that he assumed the officer meant stop moving the car. Then, suddenly, the officer fired right at Cook, shattering the driver's window. Buchele says he was stunned the officer fired... and continued firing as Cook drove up the street.
"This is a residential area, he could've hit somebody else," says Buchele.
The Culpeper town spokesperson says the officer's cruiser did have a video camera, but that it was not working. He also said the officer did not turn on his blue lights. If he had, it would've been a sign that he was detaining the person, says attorney and former Fairfax County Police officer Ted Sibert . If the person is not being detained, she should be free to go, Sibert says.
"What is he investigating? if its just for we call a suspicious person, then he doesn't have jusification to use force to maintain the contact. So if the person wants to roll the window up, they can. He can't be sticking his hand in the window or pulling someone out of the the car or open the door. Those all need justification," Sibert says.
Sibert says that before an officer tries to stop or detain someone, he needs reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur. Trespassing is not sufficient, especially if the person is trying to get off the property. Furthermore, to charge someone with trespassing, you'd need proof the person knew she was trespassing. Was it clearly marked? Did the property owner tell the person to leave?
Sibert says if the officer did put his arm in the window, he needs to have reasonable suspicion a crime was committed or about to be committed. Virginia State Police have said nothing about why the officer was detaining Cook in the first place,or, in other words, why he was putting his hand in her window, if in fact that's what he did.
Pat Cook's husband Gary Cook says she was a retired cosmetologist. He says she told him she was just going to run errands that day. He has no idea what she was doing in the Catholic school parking lot. Cook believes the officer may have used excessive force. He is seeking legal counsel.
Written by Peggy Fox