Officer Fired Over Viral Outburst May Lose Benefits
CANTON, Ohio – A viral video led to the termination of a former police officer who could now lose his workers’ compensation benefits if the city is successful in court.
In 2010, former Canton Patrolman Daniel Harless was caught on a cruiser dashboard camera berating a suspect during a traffic stop.
“How much have you had to drink tonight?” asked Harless.
“I had two beers man. Two beers man,” said the suspect.
While searching the truck, Harless discovered a gun in the backseat and lost his temper.
“Don’t (expletive) move, let me see your (expletive) hands,” said the former officer. “I’ll kill every one of you (expletive), there’s a (expletive) gun in this car! You (expletive) move I’ll shoot you in the head!”
“Quite frankly, if you’ve seen any of the videos, he left the city with no choice,” said Gust Callas, an attorney assisting Canton in the ongoing legal battle with Harless, following his termination.
The city recently filed an appeal after Harless was awarded workers’ compensation benefits citing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following an incident in 2003. That’s when a suspect confronted Harless during a call and tried to take his weapon.
“He’s alleging – nine-years after the fact – that this incident of January 1, 2003, caused his PTSD,” said Callas.
Harless was fired from the Canton Police Department earlier this year and, according to the City of Canton, he was making approximately $50,000 a year when he was let go. Currently, he’s getting the bulk of that tax free through workers’ comp.
Harless’ lawyer did not return calls for a comment, but court documents show he believes he was fired for filing a claim, not necessarily what’s on the two separate videos that surfaced prior to his termination.
In a second dash cam recording, the former officer confronts a suspect who had a weapon in the vehicle while questioning whether the man had a concealed carry permit.
The Ohio Industrial Commission, which granted the workers’ comp benefits, wrote in a ruling: “Both (examining physicians) are of the opinion that the Injured Worker can not return to his former position of employment as a result of the allowed psychological disorder.”
But according to the attorney for the city, PTSD can’t be the sole reason for a workers’ comp claim and if Canton loses in court, the city stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The next court hearing is set for Aug. 29 in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.