A North Carolina police officer fatally shot Daniel Harris, a deaf and mute man

Deaf Man Shot and Killed by Trooper During Traffic Stop

North Carolina state trooper Jermaine Saunders fatally shot 29-year-old Daniel Harris, a deaf and mute man, on Thursday night after reportedly attempting to pull him over for speeding.

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According to local news station WCNC, authorities say they pursued Harris — who couldn't have heard the police vehicle's sirens — but he'd continued driving home. Harris' neighbors report hearing gunshots just moments after seeing Saunders' patrol car pull up.

"I was here in my driveway and I saw the highway patrol car come through and it was smoking really bad," neighbor Mark Barringer told WCNC. "About 10 seconds later, I heard one gunshot."

Social reactions to Daniel Harris' death:

Social reactions after NC cop fatally shoots unarmed deaf man
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Social reactions after NC cop fatally shoots unarmed deaf man
This has destroyed me 😰😰😰 #DanielHarris https://t.co/FOuNWKQ8uc
#DanielHarris family has joined a club nobody wants to be in... and now you will never be alone. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/mh8VKKHKZo
What if I told you deaf &/or mute people can resist arrest or present a threat to cops too? Their hands still work fine. #DanielHarris
sadly, another human life that turns into hashtag, how many does it take to make a change? rip #DanielHarris
This is an UNACCEPTABLE tragedy. #DanielHarris @DeafAccessNow https://t.co/fXpD1amkg8
you can't just shoot & kill a deaf person because he tried to communicate with you in sign language. #DanielHarris

Detectives say there was an "encounter" between Saunders and Harris before Saunders fired his weapon; neighbors say Harris was probably attempting to communicate with Saunders using sign language.

Harris' family has launched an online fundraiser to cover the costs of his memorial and cremation. According to the page, any leftover funds will go toward creating a foundation in Harris' name to "educate and provide law enforcement proper training on how to confront deaf people."

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The family hopes to establish a rule requiring states to tag the cars of the hearing impaired with the word "DEAF" so that it appears when officers look up a car's license plate.

"They should've deescalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation, you're pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped," Barringer told WCNC.

"To me, what happened is totally unacceptable."

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