Daniel Kevin Harris, 29, who is deaf and mute was shot dead by the police whilst trying to communicate with them through sign language. Mr Harris, was reportedly pulled over for a speed violation whilst on the way to his home.
Officers state they tried to pull him over, but he continued you to drive until he reached his home.
Once, Mr Harris reached his home, he attempted to communicate to officer Jermaine Saunders. However, sadly, Saunders filed a shot at Mr Harris, who was unarmed and died later at the scene.
Eyewitnesses have stated that Mr Harris tried to communicate with the police, but was seemingly shot down ‘almost immediately’ after exiting the car.
According to the WCCB, Saunders said that he had shot Harris because he was not following or responding to orders and was advancing on officers.
Mr Harris’s brother, Jay, said:
‘He was unarmed – and he is a deaf individual, and I think that he was just afraid.
‘He could not hear their warnings. He could not hear their commands to stop or to stay away from them.’
Mr Harris is another sad example of not only the shoot first ask questions later mentality or some officers(especially American). But also just how dangerous it is to have a disability when interacting with the police.
Earlier this month we heard about the case of Charles Kingsley, a carer for an autistic man. The police shot him, despite Mr Kingsley being laid down on the floor, following instructions and unarmed. However, the police have said they were trying to shoot the autistic man he was caring for. Luckily, Mr Kingsley survived, however, the fact they were going to shoot an unarmed autistic man also speaks volumes on how difficult the police find interacting with people with disabilities.
There are far too many stories of people with mental or physical disabilities being killed, harassed or physically assaulted whilst in interactions with the police. Sad stories, like Mr Harris and Mr Kingsey are compounded by the bruises inflicted on to Gilberto Powell.
Mr Powell was walking outside of his house when officers mistook his colostomy bag in his pants for something potentially more sinister. They officers said that Mr Powell tried to run after they pat him down, which led to the physical altercation which resulted in his injuries. Mr Powell states he did not run away and followed the officers commands before they ‘beat’ him.
The Officers have said that after Mr Powell was subdued they realised Mr Powell was “mentally challenged, was not capable of understanding our commands and that the bulge in his waistband was a colostomy bag,”.
Here is Mr Powell speaking on his ordeal
However, this is another example of a lack of training or willingness to engage in a conversation before using force. The #BlackLivesMatter movements calls for better training and prosecution. These policies will help all people be safer during their interactions with the police. This is an issue of everyone being treated equally by the law and law enforcement. No one who is unarmed should be losing their lives at the hands of another person; especially someone government sanction to protect the people and enforce the law.
Let us know your thoughts
Do you think the police need better training?
Do you thin the police should be prosecuted for these ‘mistakes’?
Please comment and share;challenge someone to think a litter deeper