Bad Cop, Good Cop: Daniel Harless v. Matt Lyons

The law enforcement community is split on right-to-carry issues, and the opinions vary greatly depending on where in the country you are…

Regardless of an officer’s personal feelings on the matter, they have a duty to uphold the law, observe citizen’s rights, and act in conduct becoming of an officer.

In Texas, odds are, you will be in good company with pro-gun-rights cops. In New York, if you are lucky enough to get a permit, you would be best to keep it on the down low. Here in Minnesota, it’s a roll of the dice, though your odds improve significantly the further from the metro you are.

This, of course, is not a hard-line rule. The following 2 videos show you what I mean…

Officer Daniel Harless: Canton, Ohio Police Department

This instance takes place in Canton, Ohio. Traditionally, Ohio is on the friendlier side towards armed citizens. Unfortunately William Barnett was not so lucky. Barnett was accosted while pulled over while in an area known for prostitution.

As you can see in the video below, Officer Harless secures the passengers, and starts searching the vehicle prior to speaking to, or securing the driver. While department policies differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, every one of my police officer friends inform me that it is department policy to question and secure the driver before searching. They also are required to ask permission (4th amendment) first, even if they have probable cause / intent to search anyway.

WARNING: There is very profane and graphic language from Officer Harless in the video. It may not be safe for work, children, etc.

As you saw in the video, Ohio’s carry law requires you to “promptly” notify an officer that you are carrying. This differs from many other states (like Minnesota) that only require you to inform the officer when asked.

In my carry classes, I have always advised my students to inform the officer right away, by saying something to the effect of, “Officer, I want you to know that I have a permit to carry, and am carrying right now on my (left hip/ right hip / pocket, etc.).” After seeing this video, I may reconsider that practice.

It appears that Barnett tried to inform the officer, but was repeatedly told to “shut-up”. It appears that Officer Harless had already decided that Barnett was a criminal. We really don’t know WHY Barnett was there. He may have had a perfectly legitimate, though probably stupid, reason for being there. The best way to avoid trouble, is to stay away from where trouble happens. My friend, the late Joel Rosenberg, frequently said:

Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things.

That being said, being stupid is not a crime, and is not a reason for violating civil rights, and is certainly not a reason for executing someone, as Officer Harless indicated he “should have done” (13:38 in the video).

I think Barnett handled himself pretty well in the face of anger, threats against his life, threats against felony charges, and threats of police harassment. He did not get aggressive and complied with all of the officers commands and questions. However, Barnett was aware of the statute, and should have insisted on informing Harless, despite the command to “shut-up”. Bartlett also talked WAY too much. Once you have cuffs on, it’s time to shut up. Ask any police officer how many people have talked themselves out of being arrested after he’s decided to arrest them. I have yet to hear of one.

Officer Harless was initially put on paid administrative leave, and then went on medical leave.


There has apparently been a national outcry to Canton city officials, calling for them to take action. Rather than take action, Canton City Council President Allen Schulman angrily chastised conceal carry permit holders, and subtly blames them for actions of officers, like Harless.

Officer Matt J. Lyons: Oceanside, CA Police Department

Now we can take a sharp contrast over to California. California is one of the toughest places to be a gun owner. Though they have concealed carry permits, unless you are famous, a politician, a significant campaign donor, or friends with brass, you won’t get a permit. However, there IS a legal way to carry a handgun in California without a permit. The gun must be OPEN, and fully visible. The gun cannot be loaded, and any magazines for the gun must also be carried open and fully visible.

There is a growing movement in California of people exercising their right to carry the only way they can, open. Because of the frequent police interactions they tend to have, those that do carry, often have video or audio recording equipment to ensure their rights are observed, and they have a means of defending themselves against actions of Harless-type thugs.

In California an officer is allowed to do a “12031(e) check ” to see verify the firearm is unloaded. Some open carriers refuse to consent to such a search when asked, but will comply. Some officers get confused by this, and are unsure of how to handle it. Other officers are well aware of their jobs as public servants, the extent of their duties, and respect for citizen’s rights. In the video below, you can see such an encounter.

From the minute Officer Lyons comes onto the scene, he controls the situation. He knows what he has the right to do, and does not ask questions. He informs “Jeremy” that he will return the firearms shortly. When another officer is coming on scene, Officer Lyons promptly informs him “Code 4″, and that there’s not a problem. Lyons is polite, and respects “Jeremy’s” request to not further identify himself, and promptly sends him on his way. That kind of job performance is amazing in and of itself, and outstanding in California.

Semper Fi Marine… and God bless you too!

I’ve sent Officer Lyons a letter thanking him for his outstanding public service. If you would like to do the same, here is the info.

Officer Matt Lions
3855 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92054
Officer Lions’ Supervisor:
Sgt. Cosby
3855 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92054

Author: Rob Doar

Bad Cop, Good Cop: Daniel Harless v. Matt Lyons