State Trooper Kills Deaf Man Attempting To Communicate With Sign Language
State Trooper Kills Deaf Man Attempting To Communicate With Sign Language © Flickr/ webhostingreview
Trooper Jermaine Saunders attempted to pull over Daniel Kevin Harris in Charlotte, North Carolina around 6:14 PM on Thursday, but Harris continued to his home, and the former’s car collided with the latter’s in front of his house.
Neighbor Mark Barringer said “I was here in my driveway and I saw the highway patrol car come through and it was smoking really bad. About 10 seconds later, I heard one gunshot.”
Barringer explained that when he went to get a closer look at what was happening, he saw 28-year-old Harris lying in the street. “It was surreal, you just don’t expect to see something like that,” Barringer said. “When the gunshot went off, it was scary.”
Police are claiming that there was an “encounter” between Saunders and Harris before he was shot, but neighbors say Saunders opened fire as soon as Harris exited his vehicle. The state highway patrol said in a statement, “While on Seven Oaks Drive, the driver exited his vehicle and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper causing a shot to be fired.”
Harris died on the scene.
Barringer observed that Saunders opted for lethal force because the officer wasn’t prepared to deal with Saunders disability. “They should’ve de-escalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation, you’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped,” he said, “To me, what happened is totally unacceptable.”
Ryan Russell, another neighbor, said he’d seen Harris before using sign language with his family. “It seemed like a very peaceful family…These things are always heartbreaking.”
Audria Bridges, a special agent in charge of the State Bureau of Investigations area that covers Charlotte, says that Saunders will be placed on administrative leave until an investigation is complete.
She said, “The SBI is in the process of obtaining all available dash cam or body camera video present on the scene from the State Highway Patrol as well as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, as CMPD responded to the scene immediately after the shooting.”