MIAMI, Aug 23 – Authorities in the southern US state of North Carolina 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 (13-kilometer) chase on 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 neighborhood 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 neighbor 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, they are handicapped,” Mark Barringer told WSOC.
Harris’s family has 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 proper training on how to confront deaf people,” the family’s YouCaring.com fundraising page said.
They hoped to change drivers’ registration systems so that a “deaf” alert will show up when police look up a car’s license plate.
“With this change, Daniel will be a hero in our deaf community,” the family said.
More than $10,000 had been raised by late Monday.