Police shoots dead an unarmed deaf mute using sign language
A North Carolina state trooper shot dead a deaf and mute man who was apparently trying to communicate using sign language after he was pulled over for a speeding violation.
Daniel Kevin Harris, 29, a father to a son, was killed just feet from his home in Charlotte by trooper Jermaine Saunders on Thursday evening.
Police say Saunders tried to pull Harris over for a speeding violation on Interstate 485 at around 6.15pm, but the driver led authorities on a brief pursuit before stopping.
Officials said that's when the driver got out of his car and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper, causing a shot to be fired. Harris died at the scene.
But witnesses said Harris – who was unarmed – was shot ‘almost immediately’ after he exited his vehicle, WCNC reports.
They also say he appeared to be trying to communicate with the trooper using sign language.
Neighbors blasted the decision to ‘shoot first, ask questions’ later.
‘You’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped. To me, what happened is totally unacceptable,’ neighbor Mark Barringer told the local station.
‘They should have de-escalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation.’
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police report identified Harris as hearing and speech impaired, but did not give further details about his impairments.
Saunders was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.
State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Audria Bridges said agents will interview Saunders this week.