In what appears to be yet another example of an over-zealous response by U.S. police, a deaf mute father has been shot dead after being pulled over for a speeding violation.
Daniel Kevin Harris, 29, was followed by police after allegedly speeding in Charlotte, North Carolina last Thursday when they pulled a gun on him.
After a brief pursuit, Daniel stopped and immediately started communicating via sign language to police officer Jermaine Saunders.
But instead of de-escalating the situation, Jermaine fired a shot at an unarmed Daniel and he died at the scene. He leaves behind a four-year-old son.
Witnesses claims that the victim was trying to use his arms to communicate with police, and that they appeared to shoot him ‘almost immediately’ after he got out of his vehicle.
However, Saunders had a bit of a different perception on events. He said Daniel was not following orders and was advancing on the officers, according to WCCB.
Daniel’s brother, Jay, said:
He was unarmed – and he is a deaf individual, and I think that he was just afraid. He could not hear their warnings. He could not hear their commands to stop or to stay away from them.
According to Jay, their mother has been in hospital with a heart issue since the shooting, adding: “He was shot, and now we’re left with nothing.”
Neighbours were also critical of the officers’ trigger-happy approach.
Mark Barringer told WCCB:
You’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped. To me, what happened is totally unacceptable. They should have de-escalated and been trained to realise that this is an entirely different situation.
Saunders has now been placed on administrative leave since the incident, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.
Daniel’s family have set up a fundraising page since his death, which has raised over $13,000 (£9,850) so far, to cover his memorial and cremation costs.
Our thoughts are with the Harris family during this difficult time.