Warning: This video contains a substantial amount of vulgarities throughout. Please be advised it is not suitable for young children.
Update: This video has gone viral. from the night of July 21st around 6pm to the morning of July 22nd at 8:30am this Youtube video has had over 125,000 hits. The night before it only had slightly less than 1,000 views.
An encounter on June 8th, 2011 between William E. Bartlett, of Brewster, who had recently received his conceal handgun license in May, ran afoul of the Canton, Ohio police department. What happens during this encounter is a little disturbing if you are a CCW holder yourself.
The officers, after pulling up behind the vehicle do not talk to or approach the driver for several minutes into the traffic stop. The officers, Daniel Harless and Mark Diels, talk with a woman who was standing outside of William’s car and a passenger in the car. At the 3:19 marker in the video an officer enters the rear of the car on the passenger side looking for something. At this point Harless or Diels have yet to talk to the Bartlett at this point. There is no real audio we can discern as to what happened or was said while the officer was searching the rear of the vehicle.
During the stop you can see and hear Bartlett trying to tell the cops on multiple occasions that he had a conceal carry license. The video clearly shows the Canton cops were not listening to him and the situation continued to escalate .
At the 6:03 marker the one officer opens the door and and orders him to unlatch his seatbelt. At 6:11 marker Bartlett can be heard saying “I’ve got a…” when he was interrupted and Harless said “If you give me an answer other than the truth you’re coming out of there”. The driver upon exiting the vehicle has his hands above his head.
The CCW holder can be hear saying “I’ve never had to do this yet…” apparently referring to informing the officer of his CCW license.
At the 6:53 marker William exits the vehicle with a card clearly in his hands, trying to show the officer he has a CCW. Eventually he is able to get out that he has a conceal carry when the officer asks if he has a weapon on his person at that time. The response of “Yes sir. That’s why…” promptly causes the officer to reach for the concealed gun. At this point the CCW’s hands have been above his head the entire time he exited the vehicle.
Then Harless launches full force into his verbal assault.
“What is the first thing you’re supposed to do?” Harless asked.
“I was handing that to you sir…”
“You’re supposed to tell me you have a weapon.”
“I was trying to sir… you told me…”
“You are suposed to say that right off the god damn bat!” Harless yelled at the Bartlett.
From this point on the audio contains a substantial amount of vulgarities and verbal assaults on the citizen.
At one point towards the end of the video the cops is berating Bartlett and told him “I should blast you in the mouth right now … I’m close to caving in your head.” and “you’re just a stupid human being!”.
At the 13:26 marker in the video Harless is hear to say “I swear to god man this little bull crap you pulled has me so hot. You know what I should have done? I tell you what I should’ve done. A ssoon as I saw your gun I shoulda taken two steps bac, 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?”. He continued. “And he would have been a nice witness as I executed you because you’re stupid.”
The berating and exchange continued on stating that “every time I’m putting you in the computer. I see this car. I’m pulling you over and I’m towing it. I’m gonna pull that car over, tow it, and you’re going to jail every time”.
Unfortunately at this point Bartlett is facing charges for failure to inform the officer of his CCW, that he had a gun on his person, and a traffic violation for stopping in the road. He is awaiting his chance to clear the air to show that he did as the officers told him and that he tried to inform them of his conceal carry license.
It is an unfortunate that this situation occurred as it did. The Canton police do have a difficult time ensuring their own safety while trying to protect the general public, but they do have procedures they have to (and should) follow to ensure theirs and the driver’s safety. According to a Canton Repository story Harless had earned several commendations, one from a Virginia judge involving an incident of a man with a gun. However, according to the Repository article there have been 16 complaints against Harless dating back to 2000.
Harless was placed on paid administration leave pending an internal investigation.
Police departments across the state are to be commended on their jobs and thanked. They do have a tough job, and the Canton Police Department is no exception. In this case however, there was a lot of mistakes made by the officers that could have prevented the situation as it escalated and could have ended badly for the CCW license holder.
In spite of the stress of the job, it does not excuse the verbal abuse and threatening the execution of a valid CCW license holder. There is no excuse for that in any job. Being a officer of the law does not give them unrestrained authority.
Unfortunately for the Canton police department, this officer and his verbal tirade potentially could cost the city a large amount in a lawsuit against the police department if Bartlett would choose, and have legal recourse, to pursue that avenue. Threatening execution of a civilian should not be taken lightly.
The problem is, if a successful lawsuit is filed and won, you the taxpayer, will foot the bill.