Canton police officer who threatened to execute concealed carry licensee fails to appear for his disciplinary hearing

by Chad D. Baus

The Canton Repository is reporting that Officer Daniel Harless, who testified just last week in a murder trial, was not present for his long-awaited disciplinary hearing on Thursday. The hearing is the culmination of an investigation of Harless' 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.

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 f#$%g move throughout public. Period!"

The hearing was originally scheduled for September 7. On September 3, however, The Repository reported that the hearing had been postponed until December 1 "at the request of the union [president Bill Adams], which claimed the patrolman has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder." (The Canton Police Patrolmen's Association had actually requested an indefinite extension, which was was denied.) The December 1 hearing was also delayed, this time because Canton Police Department Safety Director Thomas Ream said "he had a scheduling conflict." While the "he" was undefined in the article, we speculated last week that it may just have been Officer Harless whose schedule was to blame.

That's because Officer Daniel Harless, who only 90 days ago was deemed by the Canton Police Patrolmen's Association to be so mentally "disabled" that he was unable to attend his own disciplinary hearing, was busy testifying at a murder trial.

If Daniel Harless is well-enough to testify in a murder trial, in which the defendant was ultimately convicted, he is certainly well-enough to show up to his hearing.

But he didn't.

From the latest Repository article:

At the hearing, "information was presented by the police administration, city law department and also from the (Fraternal Order of Police)," Ream said.

The safety director declined further comment.

The Police Department's internal affairs division investigated three traffic stops involving Harless. He is accused of violating department rules in each case.

The highest profile stop occurred on June 8, during which video footage from a police car camera shows Harless berating and threatening a man pulled over around 1:30 a.m. on Newton Avenue NW.

Bill Adams, president of the Canton Police Patrolmen's Association, attended the hearing. Harless, who did not attend, was represented by attorney Michael W. Piotrowski.

The original excuse for the need to postpone the hearing (again, the union requested an indefinite postponement, and they were given more than three months) is because Harless was mentally disabled and thus unable to attend. But given the fact that he just finished testifying at a murder hearing, we certainly hope he isn't still claiming a mental disability as a defense for not attending his hearing. After all, we wouldn't want the convicted killer's attorney to file an appeal based on Harless' self-admitted incompetence and possibly get his client's conviction overturned.

Since Harless apparently never had intentions of appearing, the true purpose for the union's request may have been exposed in the recent revelation that the delay has allowed him to collect paid time off for almost one half a year.

Harless has been on paid medical leave. After running out of his own sick time, some other officers have been donating their sick days to Harless, which is permitted under the union contract.

According to the article, the safety director has until Jan. 16 to issue a disciplinary ruling in the case.

"I've taken the information presented at the hearing under advisement, and I will issue a ruling in the near future,” Safety Director Thomas Ream said Thursday afternoon.

Harless could be suspended or fired.

The article states that disciplinary rulings typically are made within 10 working days of the hearing, but that still another extension was agreed to, according to Ream, "because of the complexity of the case and the seriousness of the case, (and so) that I have ample time to review everything properly."

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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