Family Of Daniel Harris Has More Questions About His Death
The family of Daniel Harris, a deaf man who was fatally shot by State Trooper Jermaine Saunders after a high speed chase last year, has more questions after the DA’s decision not to press charges against Saunders.
On Monday Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray announced no charges would be made against Officer Saunders. Murray said although Harris did not have a weapon, he did charge towards Saunders with a metal object which the officer could not identify in the moment. He also noted Saunders made multiple attempts to pull over Harris who ignored commands. The DA's full report can be viewed here.
Murray found that “there is no evidence that Harris being deaf played any role in this incident.” Jay Harris, the brother of Daniel Harris, said in a prepared statement that finding especially troubled the family. The family said that’s a red flag for the “extreme miscommunications and disconnect between the Deaf community and law enforcement.”
The DA’s report revealed Saunders did not have his Taser on him that day which he routinely carried. It was in the possession of his supervisor. The family wants to know why Saunders didn’t ask for his Taser back. If the officer had exercised any number of non-lethal options at his disposal the family says, the tragedy could have been avoided.
The family’s attorney Will DeVore says there are still many unknowns surrounding Harris’s death. He says it remains unclear whether Saunders had been properly trained or followed the appropriate policy and procedure of the State Highway Patrol when he shot Harris.
DeVore also took issue with the DA’s decision to release information on Harris’s mental health. At the time of the shooting, DeVore says Saunders had no knowledge of any medical conditions Harris may have had. He says the DA’s office did not ask for the family’s consent to publish any of Harris’s medical information.