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Culpeper deputy cleared in fatal shooting

A Culpeper County sheriff’s deputy has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of a Rapidan man last April.

“I got the word from the Virginia State Police today,” Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins said Monday. “Deputy Patrick Cooper’s shooting of an armed suspect has been determined to have been justified.”

The state police completed their investigation months ago, but were waiting for a release from Culpeper Commonwealth’s Attorney Megan Frederick’s office. That release came Monday, Jenkins said.

The bizarre case began about 6:40 p.m. on April 12 when state police say Harold Daniels’ Ford Escape was clocked going 100 mph as it drove through a deputy’s radar gun on U.S. 15.

According to a state police news release issued that day, the initial deputy lost sight of Daniels’ vehicle, which, while heading south, had apparently turned first onto White Oak Road and then into the Oak Forest subdivision.

When Cooper and Cpl. David Durrough arrived at his home about 7:25 p.m., Daniels’ SUV was apparently in the garage.

As the deputies attempted to make an arrest, Daniels, who lived alone, asked to go up to his bedroom to get his keys before leaving. There, he reportedly picked up a pistol, pointed it at the two deputies who were following him up the steps and was fatally shot by Cooper.

It was never determined why Daniels, who a neighbor said was calmly working in his yard minutes before the incident began, decided to drive his vehicle in such a reckless manner on a two-lane highway.

Nor was it determined why the man, facing at most a reckless-driving charge, picked up a gun and pointed it at the two deputies.

Cooper had been on paid administrative leave from the time the incident occurred until Monday.

Donnie Johnston:

djohnston@freelancestar.com

 

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