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North Carolina

Unarmed deaf man shot dead after failing to stop for police officer

A neighbour claimed the man didn’t understand what was happening as he couldn’t hear the siren.

AUTHORITIES IN NORTH Carolina have said they are investigating the death of a deaf man who was fatally shot after a trooper tried to pull him over for speeding.

Daniel Harris (29), who used sign language to communicate, led trooper Jermaine Saunders on an eight-mile (13km) chase last Thursday that started on an interstate highway and ended outside his home in Charlotte, local television station WSOC reported.

The driver exited his vehicle in the neighbourhood and an “encounter took place” that led to a shot being fired, North Carolina State Highway Patrol spokesman Sergeant Michael Baker said in a statement.

The driver died at the scene, Baker said. No weapon was recovered from Harris, the State Bureau of Investigation told WSOC.

Saunders has been placed on administrative leave while investigators review evidence, including dashboard and body camera videos.

A neighbour called the shooting “totally unacceptable”.

“He didn’t even hear the siren, he didn’t hear anything … You’re pulling someone over who is deaf,” Mark Barringer told WSOC.


Harris’s family have launched an online fundraiser to pay for funeral expenses.

Leftover money “will be used to set up a foundation in his name to educate and provide law enforcement [with] proper training” on how to approach people who are deaf, the family’s fundraising page said.

They said they hope to change drivers’ registration systems so that police will know if a driver is deaf when they look up a car’s licence plate number.

“With this change, Daniel will be a hero,” the family said.

At the time of publication, over $14,000 (about €12,300) has been raised.

© AFP 2016

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