Canton police officer placed on leave cleared in 15 internal complaints, 3rd dash cam video released

CANTON, Ohio - NewsChannel5 investigators have obtained a third dash cam video showing a Canton police officer making death threats during a traffic stop in December 2010.

On the video, Officer Daniel Harless and his partner pull a car over for no apparent reason. After interrogating the passengers inside about their activities, you hear Harless threaten one passenger.

Harless said, "If you scratch you balls wrong, I'm going to pull my gun and I am going to shoot you."

An internal affairs investigation concluded that Harless violated three department rules and regulations during the stop.

Investigators also found Harless violated the same three rules during two other stops where he was captured on dash cam video yelling, swearing and threatening to kill people during traffic stops.

The rules Harless is accused of breaking include deportment, cooperation with the public and treatment of persons in custody.

NewsChannel5 Investigator Sarah Buduson asked Canton Police Chief Dean McKimm how Harless was able to get away with his bad behavior.

Buduson: "Why didn't you know this was going on?"
McKimm: "I don't understand your question."

Buduson: "You've been in charge for a long time (9 years), how come you didn't know about Harless's behavior?"
McKimm: "Because there was no evidence Harless was a problem."

NewsChannel5 obtained more than 700 pages of records on Harless from Canton police. The records showed there have been a total of 18 internal affairs complaints against Harless since 2000.

In 15 of the cases, Harless was exonerated.

"Each one of the complaints was investigated and they're investigated thoroughly and completely," said McKimm.

"It depends on the situation," said Chief Dean McKimm, when Sarah Buduson asked him if the number of complaints against Harless is normal.

McKimm said hard-working officers are often the subject of false complaints.

"The number of complaints always raises a red flag," said McKimm. "Until you can prove the officers have done something wrong, that they've violated some policy or procedure, we obviously can't accuse them of doing something."

"Officers do get lied about all the time. It does happen," said McKimm.

In 2003, an internal affairs report showed there were problems with witness information from a complaint filed after Stanley Pearson was beaten while being arrested on New Year's Day.

The officers involved, including Harless, were exonerated. Pearson was sent to jail for attacking Harless and another officer.

During the arrest, Harless and Pearson got into a fight. Harless ended up with a broken rib.

In a police report, Harless said Pearson bit one of his index fingers so hard he thought Pearson had bitten off his finger.

"As a man, I mean, I took a whopping that night," said Harless to internal affairs investigators.

The incident could explain Harless' determination to pull over the car shown in the December 2010 video. Pearson was a passenger inside.

During the stop, Harless said, "I will be honest with you. I will not even dance with you. I'll shoot you dead this time."

Pearson said, "I understand."

Harless became the subject of national attention after dash cam video of him yelling, cursing and making death threats during a traffic stop went viral in July.

A second dash cam video of a July 2010 traffic stop showing Harless exhibiting similar behavior surfaced one week later.

As result of the internal affairs investigation into all three videos, Harless was placed on administrative leave and will face a disciplinary hearing Sept. 7. Harless could lose his job at the hearing.

Keep checking for the latest on the investigation.

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