A North Carolina Trooper shot and killed a deaf man after a short lived chase to the man’s house.
Police have named Trooper Jermaine Saunders as the officer responsible for shooting Daniel Kevin Harris.
Neighbors said that Saunders shot Harris almost immediately after he exited his vehicle.
It is believed that Harris was trying to communicate with Saunders through sign language.
A horrifying story in Charlotte, North Carolina, as police confirm Trooper Jermaine Saunders shot and killed a deaf man after “an encounter.”
Saunders attempted to pull over Harris for speeding.
It all started on Thursday, August 18, at 6:14 pm when Saunders attempted to pull over Daniel Kevin Harris for speeding on 485. Police say that Harris refused to stop.
The chase continued from 485 on to the Rocky River Road exit. From there the chase finally ended at Sevan Oaks. Right in front of Harris’ home.
Harris was shot in the street in front of his house.
Mark Barringer, one of Harris’ neighbors told WCNC that he saw the patrol car come through, and it was smoking real bad. Barringer went on to say that about 10 seconds later he heard one gunshot.
When Barringer went to see what had happened, he saw Harris laying in the middle of the street.
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.
Saunders fired after he and Harris had “an encounter.”
Detectives made the claim that Saunders and Harris got into “an encounter” before the trooper fired. However, neighbors claim that Harris’ car spun out of control, and he was shot almost immediately after exiting the vehicle.
Harris was deaf, mute and unarmed. Neighbors believe that Harris was trying to communicate with Saunders through sign language when Saunders shot and killed him.
Special agent Audria Bridges, who is in charge of the SBI office that covers the Charlotte region, said that Saunders is on paid administrative leave, and an investigation is underway.
Harris was arrested for resisting arrest before.
Public records show that Harris had an interpreter present to speak for him at a court hearing in Florida in 2010. During the hearing, Harris was found not guilty on one charge of misdemeanor larceny. Another charge of misdemeanor resisting property recovery dismissed was dismissed.
Harris was found guilty of one charge of resisting arrest in Charlotte in 2010. No details were available for that case, but it is fair to assume that his hearing disability played a role in the arrest.
This would not be the first time an officer misidentified sign language as an act of aggression.
There is an alarming amount of instances where officers have mistaken sign language as a sign of aggression over the years. Officers are supposed to be trained how to recognize a deaf individual to handle the situation appropriately.
A 2014, article by the ACLU claims a growing list of police brutality against those with hearing disabilities. One story they highlighted in specific is when police encountered Jonathan Meister.
In 2013, Meister was leaving his friend’s house after grabbing his belongings from the backyard with permission. Police thought Meister was a burglar.
After confronting Meister, police eventually put his hands behind his back. Stripping away Meister’s ability to communicate.
Meister pulled away and hopped over a small fence to put distance in between him and the officers so he could try and explain himself. The officers took his sign language as an act of aggression.
Meister was then punched, kicked, and hit multiple times with a Taser. He was placed in a chokehold until he briefly passed out. After the beating, police took Meister to the hospital and charged him with assaulting an officer.
15% of all calls to the police involve someone with mental illness or disability.
The Daily Beast reported that 15% of all calls to the police involve someone with mental illness or disability. While most officers do receive training on how to deal with special needs, these situations have the potential to escalate extremely fast. Especially when the suspect is not able to communicate with the officer.