Daniel Harris, a 29-year-old deaf man, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. A North Carolina state trooper killed Harris, just feet away from his house, after the young man did not pull over. It is unclear whether he was able to hear the sirens indicating that he should pull over.
According to early reports from neighbors who witnessed the shooting this past Thursday night, Harris was shot and killed “almost immediately” after exiting his vehicle. It appears that he was trying to communicate with the officer with sign language before his untimely death.
Daniel Harris’s family is trying hard to find the silver lining in their son’s death. They released this statement on a fundraising page, urging the implementation of policies to specifically address how the police interact with deaf individuals:
“Our family is raising funds to cover his memorial and cremation expenses (details pending). Any monies left over will be used to set up a foundation in his name to educate and provide law enforcement proper training on how to confront Deaf people. Subsequently, we hope to change the DMV registration system by requiring states to set up a ‘DEAF’ alert to appear when law enforcement look up a car’s license plate. With this change, Daniel will be a hero in our Deaf community.”
While it is true that Daniel Harris’s deafness may have posed barriers to communication, it is– in no way– responsible for his death at the hands of the police. This is a blatant case of police brutality. And it is so incredibly odd to me that White people are busy trying to convince Black people that they need to argue “White Lives Matter”, when they refuse to address the police brutality responsible for the deaths of not only unarmed Black men, women and children but also unarmed White people. Instead, this “White Lives Matter” slogan is used to attack the “Black Lives Matter” movement that is merely trying to address police brutality, which will inevitably benefit all members of society who are impacted by over policing and police violence.
After all, 753 people have been killed by police this year alone. While some may have posed a threat to police, others (like Daniel Harris) were unarmed or the situation could have been escalated without use of lethal force. Black Lives Matter pushes for police accountability and only when law enforcement are held accountable will we see a decline of citizen deaths at the hands of police officers.
So when will White people be ready to tell the police “White Lives Matter”? Black people are not the ones who need convincing of that fact. Officers– like the one responsible for the death of Daniel Harris — are.