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Incidents of police violence toward people with disabilities—and people who are deaf, in particular—is all too common, experts say.
Daniel Harris, killed by a North Carolina state trooper Aug. 18, wasn't the first deaf person who has been shot to death by the police, according to Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. Better training in how to communicate with people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), could help prevent such fatalities, noted Patti Perez, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in San Diego.
Harris initially refused to stop when a state trooper tried to pull him over for speeding. After a seven-mile chase into a Charlotte, N.C., neighborhood near his home, Harris exited his car, an encounter took place between the trooper and him, and the trooper shot Harris, who died at the scene, according to the Charlotte Observer. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident and has placed the officer on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when the bureau investigates a matter, the Associated Press reports.
Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf, an organization that promotes equal access to the legal system for those who are deaf, has created a Google chart on deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens who the police have killed or beaten. "While this chart may not be comprehensive, it reflects the seriousness of this problem," Rosenblum told SHRM Online.
'Missing Word in Media Coverage'
Relatedly, the Ruderman Family Foundation released a report in March, stating that "disability is the missing word in media coverage of police violence. Disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers." With offices in Boston and Israel, the foundation advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Starting with the death of a young man with Down syndrome, Ethan Saylor, in January 2013, the report focused on three years of media coverage of police violence against people with disabilities. After reviewing eight selected cases, the report found that in the media coverage:
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