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Canton police officer under investigation after concealed carry arrest [UPDATED]
by Chad D. Baus
The Canton Repository is reporting that Canton police are investigating an officer for his conduct during a traffic stop in June involving a concealed handgun license holder. The officer's actions were captured on dash cam video, and subsequently posted on YouTube.
From the article:
"I think it's important for citizens to understand that the behavior demonstrated on the video is wholly unacceptable, and it violates many of our rules, our regulations and standards we demand of our officers," Chief Dean McKimm said Thursday.
The officer on the video, Daniel Harless, was placed on administrative leave in June and has been on sick leave since Monday, McKimm said.
The results of the investigation will be presented at a disciplinary hearing, the chief said.
"The city administration, in conjunction with the police department, recognizes the seriousness of this matter," McKimm said.
Bill Adams, president of the Canton Police Patrolmen's Association, has watched the video.
Adams said that officers deal with emotional and dangerous situations on the job. But when officers respond to calls involving guns "it's an emotional situation. I'm not condoning ... anything that might have happened in the video."
"Obviously we have a lot of hard-working police officers on this department who do a lot of good work," he said. "Obviously, whatever transpired on that video is an isolated incident. It happened, and it's being handled properly right now, and the chief is doing what he feels is necessary."
Adams is also quoted as saying that police officers, who have been with the department for several years, also are (still) trying to make the transition to the (seven year-old) concealed weapon law.
In the dash cam video, the officer can be heard unleashing a profanity-laced tirade, yelling "I should blast you in the mouth right now...I'm so close to caving in your head," and "you're just a stupid human being!" He continued to berate the license-holder, shouting "You want me to pull mine and stick it to your head?" "People like you don't deserve to @#$%#$ move throughout public. Period!"
The officer left the driver in the rear of the police vehicle, and returned several minutes later and began shouting at the driver again. "...I swear to God this little bull crap you pulled has me so hot. You know what I should have done? I tell you what I should have done. As soon as I saw your gun I shoulda taken two steps back, pulled my Glock 40, and just put ten bullets in your ass and let you drop. And I wouldn't of lost any sleep. Do you understand me? And he would have been a nice witness as I executed you because you're stupid."
UPDATE: Below is an alternate version, obtained by The Canton Repository. You can hear audio from a microphone inside the police car, providing additional information.
Ohio law mandates that when a licensee from the state of Ohio (or those reciprocal states who are traveling here!) is carrying, and is stopped for a law enforcement purpose, they shall "promptly inform any law enforcement officer who approaches the person after the person has been stopped that the person has been issued a license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun and that the person then is carrying a concealed handgun."
It does appear in this video that the driver DID make several attempts to inform the officer about his license before he was asked to step out of the vehicle (and perhaps missed some opportunities as well). However, whether a license-holder promptly informs or not, NOTHING could justify the type of deplorable behavior exhibited by the Canton officer.
Canton's internal affairs unit has investigated 16 complaints involving Harless dating back to 2000.
He was reprimanded in one 2003 case. Harless and another officer were exonerated of using excessive force, but were given a letter of reprimand for not activating the in-car video camera at the scene per department policy.
In 2007, three years after passage of Ohio's concealed carry law, I wrote about having had several law-enforcement officers tell me that Ohio license-holders were not following the law properly when it came to the requirement to inform when being detained for a law-enforcement purpose.
From that article, entitled Failure to Inform: CHL-holders taking a big risk on Ohio roadways:
Since this seems not to be getting through to everyone in their training classes, it bears repeating: IF YOU ARE A CHL-HOLDER AND ARE CARRYING A CONCEALED HANDGUN IN OHIO, YOU MUST INFORM LAW ENFORCEMENT IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR A LAW ENFORCEMENT PURPOSE.
Still not convinced that this is important? Then consider that failure to promptly inform a law enforcement officer can result in being charged with a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine! As if that weren't bad enough, probation (and the resulting loss of privileges and freedoms) may be tacked on to the jail term. No matter what type of punishment the judge settles on, a conviction WILL result in the suspension of the concealed handgun license for a period of one year from the date of conviction.
...THESE REQUIREMENTS APPLY TO YOU IF YOU ARE AN OCCUPANT IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ON AN OHIO ROADWAY - NOT JUST TO YOU WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING.
Do I have your attention yet?
Ohio's firearms laws contain far too many places where a gun owner who is doing their best to follow the law can be trapped on a technicality. The "failure to inform" statute is no different.
For instance, not even most instructors (and thus their students) are aware that the duty to inform applies to each police officer who approaches a CHL-holder during a stop. If you are stopped by a partner cruiser, Officer A does the initial approach, the CHL-holder must inform them. If Officer B subsequently approaches, you are required to notify Officer B, and C, D, E and F if more arrive on the scene.
Ohio gun owners are well aware of our antiquated, backwards laws relating to gun ownership and usage. These requirements certainly fall within that same category. But as it stands, the law is what the law is, and we have a duty as law-abiding CHL-holders to follow it.
...One final note. From time to time, on those pro-gun Internet discussion forums I referred to earlier, someone will post a story on a law enforcement officer who seemed to be enjoying their authority just a bit too much, or about one that seemed less familiar with concealed handgun laws than the poster was. I would humbly ask that, in view of the story I just told, the pro-gun community keep in mind that there is evidence to suggest that for every one officer like those they complain about, there are dozens and dozens who are being extremely gracious with CHL-holders who, by either ignorance or forgetfulness, are failing to fulfill their obligations under the law.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor.