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North Carolina investigates police shooting of deaf driver

(Reuters) - North Carolina's top safety official has appealed to the public and the media not to rush to judgment over the fatal shooting of a deaf driver by a Highway Patrol trooper until an investigation is completed.

The motorist, Daniel Harris, 29, of Charlotte, was shot during a traffic stop last Thursday. The shooting occurred amid a national debate over the use of deadly force by police.

State Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry said the incident was being reviewed by the district attorney, the Highway Patrol and the State Bureau of Investigation.

"Let us all refrain from making assumptions or drawing conclusions prior to the internal and independent reviews," Perry said in a statement on Tuesday.


The State Highway Patrol said in a statement that a trooper tried to pull over a motorist on Interstate 485 for speeding. The driver fled and after a brief pursuit pulled over and got out of his car.

There was an "encounter" with the officer where a shot was fired, the statement said. The driver died at the scene.

Audria Bridges, the State Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge for the Charlotte area, identified the driver in a statement as Harris and the officer as Trooper Jermaine Saunders.

Saunders has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Bridges said the bureau was in the process of getting video recordings from officers' dash and body-worn cameras.

Harris' family has called for more specialized training in dealing with deaf drivers.

"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," Harris' brother Sam, who also is deaf, told CNN affiliate WSOC through a sign-language interpreter.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool and Alan Crosby)