Investigation Launched After NC State Trooper Fatally Shoots Deaf Man

Daniel Harris

The family of a deaf man who was shot dead by a North Carolina state trooper are left searching for answers as they wonder how 29-year-old Daniel Harris' encounter with police led to his death.

According to CNN, Sam Harris, Daniel Harris' brother, wonders if the shooting occurred because of some sort of misunderstanding between the officer and his brother, who was deaf and speech-impaired.


According to the report, no official has said whether or not that was the case, but the family are still left grappling with the loss after Daniel Harris was shot near his Charlotte, N.C., home Thursday after what authorities say was a roughly 7-mile vehicle chase.

"The police need to become aware of how to communicate with deaf people, what that might look like and how to avoid situations like this from ever happening again," Sam Harris, who also is deaf, told CNN affiliate WSOC through a sign-language interpreter.

On Thursday a state trooper tried to pull Daniel Harris over for speeding at around 6:15 p.m. on Interstate 485, officials say. Harris did not stop but instead drove all the way to his neighborhood, according to the report.

It is unclear if Harris knew that the trooper had tried to pull him over.

Once in his neighborhood, Harris "exited his vehicle, and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper," leading to shots being fired, Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker told CNN.


Harris, the father of a 3-year-old boy, died at the scene. According to CNN, authorities did not elaborate on the encounter to indicate what, if anything, Harris and the trooper communicated to each other, or if the trooper even knew that Harris was deaf.

The trooper, identified as Jermaine Saunders by WCNC-TV, has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.


According to CNN, officials are gathering dashcam video and body-camera video relating to the incident from the Highway Patrol and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, whose officers were dispatched to the scene after the shooting.

"Because at least 20 Highway Patrol officers responded, it is taking some time to get all videos related to [the] incident together," said Audria Bridges, a special agent with North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into the shooting.


One neighbor, Mark Barringer, said that he heard a gunshot.

"It was surreal. You just don't expect to see something like that," Barringer told WCNC-TV. "When the gunshot went off, it was scary."


"You're pulling someone over who is deaf. They are handicapped," he added. "To me, what happened is totally unacceptable."

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