Dozens of people held a vigil on Monday in honor of Daniel Harris, the deaf and speech-impaired man a North Carolina state trooper shot and killed during an encounter over a traffic infraction, CNN reports.
Twenty-nine-year-old Harris’ relatives told friends and neighbors at the vigil that they need answers from authorities about the deadly encounter, which is still under investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to the network.
“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, the brother of Daniel Harris, told WSOC-TV. Sam Harris is also deaf.
According to authorities, State Trooper Jermaine Saunders tried to pull over Harris on Thursday for allegedly speeding on an interstate highway. But Harris didn’t stop. Instead, he led the officer on an 8-mile pursuit that ended near his home in Charlotte.
Harris, 29, died at the scene when he “exited his vehicle, and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper,” a police spokesman said.
Saunders is now on administrative leave, as protocol requires, and has retained a lawyer, according to WSOC.
Authorities are gathering video evidence from several dashboard and body cameras. It’s taking a long time, they said, because at least 20 highway patrol officers responded to the incident.
Meanwhile, the police have been silent about the encounter – not even revealing whether Saunders knew that Harris was deaf.
The family started an online fundraising campaign to pay for Harris’ memorial and cremation. Excess funds will be used to establish a foundation to train police officers on how to confront deaf people.
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