Deaf driver's shooting death by trooper under investigation

Sep 05, 2016, 03:23
Deaf driver's shooting death by trooper under investigation

Daniel Kevin Harris was shot and killed by a North Carolina state trooper on Thursday.

"You turn on your hazard lights and always keep your hands on the steering wheel", he said. "These unfortunate incidents can be prevented by mutual awareness which overcomes the lack of communication".

Friends and family said they still can't shake the belief that Harris did not need to die in this way.

The Highway Patrol on Tuesday urged people not to jump to conclusions. The department oversees the Highway Patrol.

Sam Harris cut short a prearranged interview with The Associated Press after a reporter asked for more information about the police confrontations and if that was what made him more afraid of officers, walking away and motioning for his interpreter to come with him back to the family home.

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Trooper Saunders has been placed on administrative leave.

Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office plans on evaluating the case after law enforcement finishes its investigation. They posted that any extra money will be used for educating police officers on how to handle people with hearing impairments and calling for a system to alert officers they are dealing with a deaf driver.

"You don't see deafness the way that you see the difference in race".

"The police need to become aware of how to communicate with deaf people, what that might look like and how to avoid situations like this from ever happening again", Daniel's brother, Sam Harris told WSOC during a vigil on August 22.

In the wake of Harris's death, his family has noted that Harris was deaf and suggested that the fatal interaction may not have unfolded that way had the trooper known this.

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Harris' family said they were not talking to the media Tuesday because they wanted the focus to be on a memorial held at a church.

Once in his neighborhood, Harris "exited his vehicle, and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper", leading to shots being fired, Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker told CNN.

A warrant was issued, but never served, but it wasn't clear why.

Also in Denver, Harris had traffic stops in 2015 and 2008. It's unclear what happened with the 2015 charge. A charge of resisting an officer was dropped.

And in December of that same year, he pleaded guilty to interfering with or resisting police in Watertown, Connecticut. Neighbors believe he was trying to communicate using sign language when the trooper opened fire. But CEO Howard Rosenblum says there are "too many" such incidents. "Too often, officers make verbal orders for individuals to comply and act aggressively when those individuals do not comply".

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The victim's family said Mr Harris likely didn't understand the officer's commands.

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