North Carolina Police Shoots And Kill An Unarmed Deaf, Mute Man During A Traffic Stop

Daniel Harris

Photo Credit: Google

Via NY Daily News  A North Carolina state trooper shot and killed 29-year-old Daniel Harris — who was not only unarmed, but deaf and mute — just feet from his home, over a speeding violation. According to early reports from neighbors who witnessed the shooting this past Thursday night, Harris was shot and killed “almost immediately” after exiting his vehicle.He appeared to be trying to communicate with the officer via sign language.”They should’ve de-escalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation,” neighbor Mark Barringer said. “You’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped. To me, what happened is totally unacceptable.”Police claim they attempted to pull Harris over for speeding, but he continued driving home instead of pulling over. Whether Harris fully understood what was happening, since he could not have heard the sirens, is unclear. His family, including his siblings, are also hearing impaired and could often be seen communicating with each other via sign language in the neighborhood.

An outrageous 752 people have been killed by American police so far this year. While some of the cases posed genuine risks to law enforcement, this one is hard to justify. Beyond being unarmed, deaf and mute, Daniel Harris appears to have been a rather small, thin man. Opening fire could not have been the only option the officer had. What threat did Harris pose? Was a Taser or pepper spray used? Could the officer truly not subdue Harris on his own?If reports from neighbors are accurate, it doesn’t appear the officer even tried, but pretty much shot and killed Harris mere seconds after he got out of the car.

In a widely shared fundraiser from the Harris family, they wrote:

“Our family is raising funds to cover his memorial and cremation expenses (details pending). Any monies left over will be used to set up a foundation in his name to educate and provide law enforcement proper training on how to confront Deaf people. Subsequently, we hope to change the DMV registration system by requiring states to set up a ‘DEAF’ alert to appear when law enforcement look up a car’s license plate. With this change, Daniel will be a hero in our Deaf community.”

Daniel’s hearing impairment is no excuse for what happened. While his family is correct — police should absolutely be better trained, and license plates could and should provide smarter alerts to first responders — this case boils down to the “shoot first, ask questions later” training police are receiving all over the country. Virtually any other option the officer could’ve considered was better than what he chose in this case, but here we are with another avoidable casualty of police violence.

Daniel Harris should be alive with a speeding ticket, but instead his family is raising funds for his cremation.

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