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Deaf American Shot Dead by Cop, Incident Sparks Off Mass Outrage

The victim’s family said that victim Daniel Harris likely didn’t understand the officer’s commands.

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The North Carolina Highway Patrol is urging people to not jump to conclusions as state agents investigate how a deaf driver with a history of minor offenses ended up dead after leading a trooper on a 10-mile chase.

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The family of Daniel Kevin Harris said he was unarmed and suggested the sequence of events last week was a tragic misunderstanding — the type the state’s training manual warns troopers to avoid when dealing with the hearing impaired.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Secretary Frank Perry of the state Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

“Let us all refrain from making assumptions or drawing conclusions prior to the internal and independent reviews” by the patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney, said Perry, whose agency oversees the Highway Patrol.

Authorities haven’t said why Trooper Jermaine Saunders fired, and a review of public records shows a few traffic charges against Harris from other states, including damaging his employer’s vehicle with his own car after he was fired last year, according to a Denver police report.

Last Thursday’s incident started when Harris did not pull over as Saunders turned on his blue lights on Interstate 485 near Charlotte about 6:15 p.m. and ended after Harris drove down several miles of surface streets to his home.

North Carolina’s Basic Law Enforcement Training manual has a section that deals with interacting with deaf drivers. “Keep your eyes on the person’s hands,” it reads. “Deaf people have been stopped by an officer and then shot and killed because the deaf person made a quick move for a pen and pad in his or her coat pocket or glove compartment. These unfortunate incidents can be prevented by mutual awareness which overcomes the lack of communication.”

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

Harris’ family said they want to make sure the incident is investigated thoroughly and also want the state to make changes so officers will immediately know they are dealing with a hearing-impaired driver. (Inputs: AP)

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

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Topics:  Police   Deaf   Hearing Impaired 

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