Yesterday, we brought you the video of an irate Canton, OH police officer threatening to kill a concealed carry gun owner. It went viral. Today, we learn that the officer involved has been placed on leave. But we’re also learning a lot more about the officer himself, including his reported history of being the focus of internal affairs investigations.
WJW-TV reports Officer Daniel Harless was placed on leave after the June 8 incident, although it doesn’t note how soon after the incident the action took place.
However, a report by the Canton Repository reveals more details. According to its story, Harless was placed on leave on June 20 pending the completion of an internal investigation. And according to the paper, Harless has a history of complaints against him — he has faced 16 internal affairs investigations since 2000 and been reprimanded in the past:
Harless, 45, an Ohio native and former Marine worked as a police officer in Virginia for four years before coming to Canton in 1996.
During his career he has earned several commendations.
One was from a Virginia judge, who praised the way Harless handled a situation involving a man with a gun, according to records in his city personnel file.
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.
Once the investigation into Harless is completed he will face a disciplinary hearing, Police Chief Dean McKimm told WJW.
“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,” the chief told the Repository.
“The city administration, in conjunction with the police department, recognizes the seriousness of this matter,” he added.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Repository reports the police union head — Bill Adams — is not throwing his support, at least publicly, behind Harless:
“Obviously whatever transpired on that video is an isolated incident,” Adams said. “It happened and it’s being handled properly right now and the chief is doing what he feels is necessary.”
Adams said calls involving guns can be emotional and dangerous situations, but he wasn’t condoning anything that might have happened on the recording.
“We’re a very well-trained and well-rounded police department that has solid officers that can make good, solid decisions every day,” he said. “You can’t (take) one incident like this and make it like every (officer) is out of control.”
The gun owner’s full name has also been revealed. He is 52-year-old William E. Bartlett, of Brewster, OH.
The story has quickly become a staple on the internet. Ohioans For Concealed Carry, which first posted the video and is raising money for Bartlett’s defense, says that the response was so large it shut down the group’s website temporarily.
“Shortly after 7:00pm Thursday our website could no longer handle the volume of visitors we were receiving,” the group says on its website. “We promptly quadrupled the resources behind OhioCCW.org in light of the popularity of this story.”
“The video and story has gone both viral and national crossing over to websites not typically affiliated with the pro-gun movement,” it added.