Ex-manager: council told me to get 'a handle' on PD - Star Exponent: News

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Ex-manager: council told me to get 'a handle' on PD

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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013 12:00 am

The town manager recently fired by Culpeper Town Council for her suspension a police captain said council told her to get more involved in overseeing the police department after the fatal shooting last February.

  "When the whole (Daniel) Harmon-Wright thing happened, council members came to me ... and said, 'First of all, why didn't you know about these other excessive force' (complaints)? I said because the chief never told me," said former Culpeper Town Manager Kim Alexander in an interview Thursday. "I was told I needed to get a handle on the police department that maybe this could have been prevented if the police department didn't operate so separately from the rest of town hall, if maybe the hiring procedures had been different, if maybe the town manager had a little more oversight. They told me to get involved in the police department, they told me to bring them back into the fold."

  Exactly a month before former Culpeper Police Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright fatally shot Patrica Cook on East Street, he was notified via letter from Capt. Rick Pinksaw of an internal investigation against him related to an incident on Farley Street.

  "After reviewing the facts and circumstances of the investigation, it is apparent that excessive force was utilized," Pinksaw wrote in the letter to Harmon-Wright. "You were assisting on a call in the area of Farley Street for a suspicious person."

  Pinksaw further explained in the letter how Harmon-Wright observed an individual flee on foot from another officer but that, "No crime had been committed and the pursuit of the individual was based solely on him running from the police and failing to stop when you commanded to (do) so."

  By the time the individual running away went into a house in the area, Harmon-Wright had his gun drawn and continued to do so as he entered the home at which a partially-closed female answered the front door. The woman's other son was ordered to the ground even though he "never appeared to be a threat to the officers on the scene," Pinksaw wrote.

  The individual who had fled was the woman's other son, "who in only the best light was truant from school."

  "Our meeting in regards to this investigation and our conversation about the details of this case will serve as a counseling session and will serve as the final disposition of this investigation," Pinksaw wrote.

  When Alexander initiated an internal investigation in September of Culpeper Police Capt. Chris Settle for alleged wrongdoing, it resulted in her recently being fired by council, apparently believing she mishandled the situation.

  Alexander doesn't see it that way, though.

 "Apparently, it's different if it's a different person," she said of the probe of the leadership position.

  "If it's a person that's from Culpeper, and the sense that I get is that's not about the action ... it's about who it is. I don't think that's right."

  Special prosecutor Jim Fisher, in the ongoing murder trial of Harmon-Wright for fatally shooting Pat Cook on Feb. 9, 2012, asserted the former officer not from Culpeper used excessive force in that much more serious incident.

  "At the end of the day, this man shot this woman in the back," Fisher said in his opening statement Tuesday. "It was excessive. It was illegal. It was unjustified. It was murder."

  Harmon-Wright's trial resumes Monday at 9 a.m. with jury instructions. The defense and prosecution both rested their cases Friday.


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