It's being called "The cop heard 'round the world"... This Canton Concealed Carry arrest is a perfect example of why the law on "mandatory notification" needs to be changed quickly.
This video is real life evidence of a re-occurring problem in Ohio law with gun owners: The poorly defined "promptly inform" law leaves a gaping opportunity for police officers to cite a gun owner with a misdemeanor when they can't find anything else to charge that person with, or when they want to make an example of that person for carrying a firearm. In this particular case the officers are so focused on their own demands that they completely miss multiple opportunities to be "promptly informed" by the licensee. At least once when an officer is climbing around his car, and only minutes later when finally approached by an officer at his door the man tries to say "I have a carry..." but is interrupted.
With his license to drive a car and carry a handgun in each hand the man's well intentions are obvious. He never breaks his mild mannered temper even while being threatened with execution while hand cuffed. This is not a man who was trying to hide the fact that he was armed from anyone.
Watch our audio enhanced original version right here (and embed/link to it anywhere you think would be appropriate). OFCC has hidden the license plate, muted audio revealing that plate, and some other irrelevant personal identifying information.
WARNING: Video contains raw audio. Only license data, personal identifying audio, and eight minutes trying to identify who the male passenger was were edited out. Video contains a substantial amount of vulgarity.
Copyright: This video is annotated, transcribed, edited to remove portions irrelevant to the case at hand, and audio enhanced by Ohioans For Concealed Carry. The video is Copyright 2011 by Ohioans For Concealed Carry and may not be "re-used" without our express written permission. However: Anyone may embed this video in their website by using YouTube embed code, but if you download and re-upload it to YouTube we will enforce our copyright through YouTube. Please link to it, don't steal it.
All Updates Here
The blue outlined area of this page will contain chronological updates about the case and the political aspects thanks to the Canton City Council President. If you're looking to make a contribution to the legal defense fund, please do so via the links in the red section below. We are receiving an unprecedented amount of positive emails from people all over the United States. If we have not gotten back to you, please understand we're a group of volunteers who spend most of our days at work!
CCW CHARGES DISMISSED BY JUDGE AFTER PROSECUTION RESTS THEIR CASE!
FINALLY: Today the concealed carry related charges against Barlett were dropped after the Prosecution rested its case and the defense made a motion to dismiss, or acquit, under Criminal Rule 29. This is being described to us as a conclusion that the state (or, Canton Prosecutor) didn't make a case beyond reasonable doubt. The judge agreed with that motion and Bartlett entered a guilty plea for being "stopped in the roadway", which consisted of a minor fine and court costs.
Motions to dismiss: The defense attorney representing Mr. Barlett made motions to dismiss the charges against William and to suppress certain evidence against Barlett. Those motions were all denied and the trial is moving forward as described above.
Trial Postponed 10/5/11: The City of Canton trial against William Bartlett was scheduled to begin tomorrow, October 6th. That trial is postponed at this time. During a previous pre-trial evidence suppression hearing before the judge Bartlett's attorney made a motion to dismiss the case against Bartlett. That motion, along with others to suppress evidence, is pending a ruling by the court.
Disciplinary Postponed: The Canton Repository reported that the Disciplinary Hearing was postponed until December 1st. The criminal charges against William Bartlett remain to be pursued by the City of Canton, with a trial still scheduled for October 6th, 2011. A suppression hearing is scheduled for September 28th, where the defense will request unknown evidence to be suppressed from the trial on grounds unknown to OFCC at this time.
Officer Harless Disciplinary Hearing: 9/7/2011 Safety Director Thomas Ream has scheduled a disciplinary hearing for September 7th, according to This Canton Repository Story published August 23rd. According to the article the punishment for a "Level A" violation ranges from 30 days off to being fired, and can either be real time or paid by "trading in" time accrued. The Police Union can request a continuance of the hearing date. It is not clear if the public can attend
Trial Scheduled: 10/6/2011: The City of Canton is proceeding with a trial against Mr. Bartlett on Thursday, October 6th, 2011 at 9:00am. Ohioans For Concealed Carry is determining if it makes sense for supporters to appear on the first day of trial or another day. For more information on the court click here. SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME
Pre-Trial: 8/22/2011: A pre-trial is scheduled again for Monday the 22nd. As of this time we anticipate this to be a meeting between the defense attorney and the prosecutors with no public courtroom appearances. There is no date scheduled for an actual trial at any time in the future.We consider this unusual at this point.
Pre-Trial: 8/8/2011: A pre-trial is scheduled again for Monday the 8th. As of this time we anticipate this to be a meeting between the defense attorney and the prosecutors with no public courtroom appearances.
Legislation: Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been working on legislation to repeal the mandatory notification law. This wouldn't stop an officer from asking you if you had a firearm, but would instead eliminate the very serious crime that William and many before him in very similar situations were charged with. We're thrilled to announce that Representative Danny Bubp is working with us to introduce this legislation this fall.
Pre-Trial: 8/1/2011: A pre-trial for William Bartlett was scheduled, but did not happen. The prosecutor on the case has been changed and the pre-trial has been rescheduled. At this point in time we highly encourage you to sign up for our Ohio Gun Owner Alerts in the red box. When an actual real trial date is finalized we will be aggressively encouraging people to attend the proceedings in person.
Trending Behavior:The Canton Repository has revealed that Officer Harless is now under investigation for a second incident involving his temper. Video: Officer Harless loses his temper on another arrest - The Police Chief has indicated, according to the Canton Repository, that the police department will forward "one package" of the two investigations to the City Safety Director. It appears Harless' fascination with shooting people and sleeping well the same evening continues in this video.
Officer Status: We know that Officer Harless has been relieved of his duties. We believe that he is on administrative leave with pay or sick pay. Ohioans For Concealed Carry does not anticipate the City of Canton to pursue criminal or administrative charges against Harless until the criminal case against William Bartlett is resolved - this is consistent with many other departments and not unique to this situation, but all the more reason the charges against Bartlett should be dropped. Please understand that Officer Harless, like any of us, is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence.
UPDATE 7/26/2011: Canton Council President Alan Schulman made a fool of himself at a Council hearing where he
refused to address the issue but goes on to literally whine about the emails they're getting from outside of Canton, Ohio. He blames the problem on firearms and says that people shouldn't be allowed to be armed "in the worst of times" His 15 minutes of fame can be found here: On YouTube as well. Schulman missed an opportunity to state that city leaders won't stand for this, they find what happened to be unacceptable, and they intend to do the right thing. Instead, Schulman ignored the underlying issues at hand and complained about his inbox and his political position on firearms. The opportunity to display leadership was lost on Schulman Monday night.
UPDATE 7/22/2011: Canton Police announced Thursday 7/21 that the officer was relieved of all duties in June following an internal investigation complaint filed in this matter. The local Canton Repository has done some additional investigatory work into the officers and an excellent analysis of the video / audio we posted. The video and story has gone both viral and national crossing over to websites not typically affiliated with the pro-gun movement. Shortly after 7:00pm Thursday our website could no longer handle the volume of visitors we were receiving. We promptly quadrupled the resources behind OhioCCW.org in light of the popularity of this story.
How You Can Help
This case needs your help. Please contribute to the Legal Defense Fund so that we can help William's attorney represent him against failure to inform charges with Canton Municipal Courts. Contribute To The Legal Defense Fund.
Discussion Here in our forums. Readable, but free registration required to post.
Why "mandatory prompt notification" needs to go:
Shortly after HB12 became law in 2004, Ohioans for Concealed Carry began to hear horror stories about the way law enforcement had reacted during traffic stops. Motorcyclists were told to conceal their guns instead of carrying them openly (motorcycle open-carry then was required by law). Computers in some police departments generated a felony warrant indicator when processing a license plate linked to a Concealed Handgun License. This caused multiple police vehicles to converge on a licensee in order to perform a felony traffic stop.
Those days, for the most part, are behind us. They've been replaced with occasional stories of rogue cops who have abused the concealed carry law in one way or another. In 2006, Daniel Sayers was filling his gas tank and washing his windows at a gas station when someone called the police to report a "man with a gun" leaving the station. After minutes of dash camera footage showing a police cruiser hurtling through side streets and breakneck speeds, we watched as Sayers promptly pulled over thinking the cruiser was trying to pass him. Within seconds Sayers had an AR-15 pointed at him, accompanied by officers ordering him out of the car, despite a malfunction in his car windows and doors.
Police continually screamed orders at him. Sayers was eventually pulled from the car, handcuffed, and placed in the back of the cruiser. Later, he was charged with failure to inform police that he was armed and had a concealed handgun license. The fact is, Sayers was unable to notify.
The same events played out in Beachwood, Ohio when OFCC member Bryan Ledford was approached by an officer pointing a taser at him and ordering him to exit his vehicle. Every attempt Ledford made to communicate with the officer was met with a refusal to acknowledge Ledford's attempts to inform the officers of his handgun license. In Ledford's case, officers spent 30 minutes rummaging through his vehicle, without a warrant, looking for something with which to charge him, until it finally hit them: Charge him with failure to inform. They went to court insisting that 53 seconds had transpired between the time they engaged Ledford and the time he informed them, and that somehow this time frame justified arresting Ledford, putting him into jail, and charging him with a misdemeanor.
But none of this compares to the atrocity that took place on June 8, 2011 to a man named William who had obtained his concealed handgun license approximately one month earlier. Early that Wednesday morning, William pulled his car to the side of the road to let out two passengers, but only the female occupant managed to exit before the police pulled up and began screaming at all three parties. "Stay in that car, I'm not going to mess around," screamed one of the officers at the two people attempting to exit the vehicle. The driver and concealed handgun licensee, William, remained seated in his vehicle when an officer entered the rear of the vehicle.
William stated, "I have a concealed carry, and..." when he was abruptly told to shut up. Dash camera video footage shows the driver turning his head, and his voice can be heard, but the words are inaudible. A few minutes passed while the officer continued to berate the two passengers. He proceeded to the driver's side and tries to open the door but is delayed by a seat belt. ...people like you don't deserve to @#$%#$ move throughout public. Period!... William states "I have a conceal..." and the officer demands that he better tell the truth or else! This interruption causes William to "tell the truth" and his attempt to notify is interrupted. William exited the vehicle with his driver's license in the same hand as his concealed handgun license. He held it up for the officer to see, and the officer said, "Why are you having that?"
This gave William the opportunity to say, "I have a CCW, and..." The officer then said, "Do you have a gun?" William answered yes, causing the officer to grab it from William's waist.
At this point, William was handcuffed and put into the police cruiser. The officer then started to berate William, stating: "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!"
The remainder of the threats, including executing the licensee for "being stupid" must be seen in the video to be believed
Copyright Notice: We HIGHLY ENCOURAGE people to link, embed, or otherwise refer people to the official OFCC version of our video on YouTube. However - recently a number of people have decided to try to take the video we created and re-upload it to YouTube to ride the viral wave of this video. The video produced by Ohioans For Concealed Carry is a derivative work and contains our copy written logo, artwork, and narrative text. Shortly following our video going viral a substantial number of people have decided to use software to pull our video off YouTube and re-upload that video to their account on YouTube. Some have taken it off other websites and re-uploaded it to YouTube in their channel. Ohioans For Concealed Carry is opposed to this for the following reasons:
- Our video was uploaded to YouTube under the Standard YouTube License, which is NOT a Creative Commons "re-use permitted" License.
- Contrary to popular belief there is absolutely no benefit to re-uploading our video to hundreds of different YouTube channels to "help us get the word out"
- The proper way to share our video is to embed it in your websites, to favorite or share it on YouTube, or to otherwise link to it directly here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kassP7zI0qc
- Our video is deemed viral because the counter is well over 600,000 hits as this was written. If the content of this video is spread across numerous uploads, the overall success in the counter is diminished.
- While the counter is not substantially important to us it is the undeniable means that the public, the media, and others will determine the video's popularity and success.
- Taking our video, re-uploading it to your channel, and then embedding YOUR version into a website and "reporting on it" is not legitimate "Fair Use" - you took and re-uploaded our content to YouTube. Just embed OUR video.
- When third parties download and re-upload our video we are unable to control what they do to the video. Some have edited it substantially, some have added gun shots or other derogatory anti-government or anti-police officer content.
- By re-uploading our video to YouTube you prevent us from adding annotations to YOUR version of the video, which is the method that we are using to update the public watching our video on the status of the case, litigation, etc.
Ohioans For Concealed Carry will pursue and enforce its copyright to this video through YouTube's copyright complaint process and has been successful in having a substantial number of videos removed. We do not have the time or the man power to individual write people private messages asking them to take our video down. Please be aware of our rights and contact us via the Contact Us links on OhioCCW.org if you have any questions about proper use of our video.