DA Won't Charge Trooper In Fatal Shooting Of A Deaf Man
It’s been about 6 months since the death of 29-year-old Daniel Harris, a deaf man fatally shot in Charlotte after a high speed chase with a state trooper. On Monday the Mecklenburg district attorney announced Trooper Jermaine Saunders had legal justification to fire the fatal shot that killed Harris, not far from his home. WFAE’s Sarah Delia has more.
There were more questions than answers around the circumstances that led to the death of Daniel Harris back in August. On Monday, District Attorney Andrew Murray determined it was not unreasonable for Trooper Saunders to fire his weapon at Harris. He came to that conclusion based on an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation. View the DA's full report here.
The report details that Trooper Saunders and Harris were engaged in a high speed chase and that Saunders twice used his vehicle to spin out Harris’ car. When Harris eventually stopped, the report says he jumped out of his car and charged at Saunders with a metal object in his hand. The object wasn’t a weapon however it was metal carabineer key ring.
Still Murray says Harris appeared uncompliant and Saunders did not know what he was holding.
"Regardless of what’s in his hand, there is a threat to the trooper especially when the trooper’s gun is out because that gun becomes a potential weapon against him," Murray said.
Saunders usually carries a Taser, but he didn’t have it on him that day. The Taser was taken in for analysis related to a separate case.
The report also includes witness accounts of the incident. One witness described Harris’ as driving “very aggressively.” Another stated Harris looked confused. Multiple witnesses say before he exited his car it looked like he was leaning over looking or reaching for something.
The report also states Harris may have been suffering from “some sort of mental health crisis.”
The report says there is no evidence that Harris being deaf played any role in this incident. Murray says Harris was avoiding Trooper Saunders during the chase and despite not being able to hear should have understand what Murray calls universal signs.
"He has a gun drawn on you, he's in uniform, and you charge or sprint directly at the trooper with an object in your hand," Murray said.
Saunders did not have a car equipped with a dash cam and was not wearing a body camera. In a perfect world Murray says, credible video is always helpful to review.