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Former Fairfax, Va., County cop Ted Sibert says officer had no justification to enter family's home

5:10 PM, Jun 12, 2012   |    comments
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CULPEPER, Va.  (WUSA) - Just four months before Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright shot and killed Patricia Cook who was unarmed sitting in her Jeep Wrangler, the officer used excessive force on the Wilson family.

"I see a gun to my face. It was terrifying, a little scary," said Patrick Wilson, 19.

Harmon-Wright was searching for Patrick's younger brother who somebody thought looked suspicious, even though he was on his way to school. Court documents say Harmon Wright drew his gun and demanded he be allowed inside. The boy's mother was scared and said no, but finally let him.

"He had no right to be in their house, should no be pushing way into the home," said Ted Sibert, an attorney, former prosecutor and former Fairfax County police officer. He says before police enter a home, they need either a warrant, consent, or an emergency situation. Otherwise, it's a violation of one's constitutional rights.

"I can't see there was any justification for entering the home and searching the house," he said.

After reading through court documents, Sibert sees similarities between that incident and the killing of Patricia Cook. "It's all about excessive use of force. It's of the same ilk."

Officer Harmon-Wright's only punishment concerning the incident at the Wilson home was this letter of reprimand. Sibert believes if it had happened in Fairfax County, the officer would have had to receive additional training.. And a possible suspension.

"I think they would have considered it a major violation. In nothing else, for the liability of the police department."

The husband of Patricia Cook has already filed a civil suit against Harmon-Wright, now it's likely he'll expand that to include the police department.

The next hearing in the case is July 24th for Harmon-Wright's motions which include a change of venue.  His lawyer says he can't get a fair trial in the Town of Culpeper.   The prosecutor says he certainly can and he'll fight the motion.

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