Radio communications released between dispatch, trooper who shot deaf man

Radio communications released between dispatch and trooper who shot, killed deaf man

CHARLOTTE — Channel 9 obtained radio communication that provides new insight into the pursuit and shooting death of a deaf man by a Highway Patrol trooper.

Investigators say Daniel Harris, 29, was shot and killed by Trooper Jermaine Saunders on Aug. 18.

Since then the State Bureau of Investigation has launched a criminal investigation into whether Saunders use of force was justified.  The North Carolina Highway Patrol is also conducting an internal investigation into whether all policies and procedures were properly filed.

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The audio recording obtained is 18 minutes, 41 seconds long.

It begins with Saunders radioing in a driver speeding on the Interstate 485 inner loop near the Interstate 85 interchange. That driver is believed to be Daniel Harris.

"A blue Volvo. 485 inner-loop, Volvo, Colorado. 88 (mph) in a 70 (mph zone)," Saunders said.

"10-4. 88 (mph) in a 70 (mph zone)," dispatch said.

The trooper updates communications on his speed, as well as traffic conditions for the next 6 miles. 

The driver, believed to be Harris has yet to stop his car. 

At one point Saunders radios in that he's going to try a PIT maneuver.  A PIT maneuver is a technique used by police to stop a fleeing vehicle by using their cruiser to spin out the other car.

"I'm going to try to PIT him out," said Saunders to dispatch. 

Seconds later, Saunders confirms there has been a collision or accident.

"10-50, 10-50, 10-50," yelled Saunders over the communications line. "10-50 inner loop near (mile marker) 36."

Exit 36 leads to Rocky River Road.  Channel 9 has exclusive viewer video showing what also appears to be Harris's car spun out and perpendicular to the road.  In this video, a trooper is standing outside the Volvo but the driver reverses and then drives away. 

Radio communication confirms this encounter.

"He took off again. I'm going to try and PIT him out," Saunders said.

"Back in motion. Traveling again. PIT failed," dispatch said.

Saunders continues the pursuit, taking a right onto Rocky River Road.

Throughout the recording other troopers have been informing dispatch they are in route to assist Saunders. Saunders mentions another maneuver to stop Harris. But before the "rolling road block" could be executed Harris turned right onto Seven Oaks Drive, according to the recording.

Seconds after turning onto Seven Oaks Drive, Saunders radios in that Harris may be getting out of the car.

Approximately 15 seconds after that line of communication -- a shots fired call.

"Shot fired. Shot fired," Saunders said. "I got one subject down. Go ahead and find me a medic."

Five minutes later, paramedics arrive at the scene.

"Medic 10-23," dispatch said.

Dispatch then identifies the owner of the car after officials communicate the license plate number on the vehicle.
"1028 Colorado to Daniel K. Harris," dispatch said.

Police expert Scott MacLatchie said it's still unclear what exactly happened in the seconds before the shooting. He added this audio will provide context as to what happened in its entirety.

"The law will look at reasonable perception," MacLatchie said. "Could a reasonable officer, well trained, in that trooper's position have perceived whatever he's going to say he saw that caused him to fire."

SBI did not provide any updates on the investigation Monday when asked.
 "Shot fired. Shot fired," Saunders said. "I got one subject down. Go ahead and find me a medic."

Five minutes later, paramedics arrive at the scene.

“Medic 10-23,” dispatch said.

Dispatch then identifies the owner of the car after officials communicate the license plate number on the vehicle.

“1028 Colorado to Daniel K. Harris," dispatch said.

Police expert Scott MacLatchie said it’s still unclear what exactly happened in the seconds before the shooting. He added this audio will provide context as to what happened in its entirety.

“The law will look at reasonable perception,” MacLatchie said. “Could a reasonable officer, well trained, in that trooper's position have perceived whatever he's going to say he saw that caused him to fire.”

SBI did not provide any updates on the investigation Monday when asked.

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