NORTH CANTON -- City officials and the police department said Thursday that they will not apologize for arresting a Plain Township trustee for possible OVI back in September.
The trustee, Scott M. Haws, demanded that the City of North Canton and its police department provide him with a public apology for arresting him with "absolutely no evidence." after he pleaded no contest to a lane violation.
Here's what happened, according to the police department.
On Sept. 10, a North Canton police officer charged Haws with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and a lane violation.
The officer had observed Haws committing several lane violations near Maple Street E and Market Avenue N around 12:05 a.m. and performed a traffic stop.
Upon the belief that Haws was impaired, the officer requested and Haws voluntarily submitted to a drug test.
When the results of the test were returned several weeks later and demonstrated no presence of alcohol or illegal drugs, the OVI charge was dismissed.
Haws recently pleaded "no contest" to the lane violation and the Canton Municipal Court found him guilty of that charge.
He immediately demanded that the City of North Canton and its police department provide him with a public apology for arresting him with "absolutely no evidence."
In a prepared statement, the City of North Canton said it "is pleased that Haws was vindicated of the OVI charge. His record indicates that he is a respected and devoted public official. However, given the circumstances surrounding the reason for the traffic stop, and his behavior during the stop, the officer had probable cause to believe that he was impaired. The officer treated Haws as he would any other citizen."
"Upon exhibiting signs of impairment-for his safety, and the safety of others-he was placed into custody, issued a summons, and was released to a responsible person, all within about an hour. The North Canton Police officer followed standard protocol in this matter. Its officers will continue this practice. It will not apologize for doing so."
On Friday, Haws issued his own statement:
"I'm extremely pleased the court has dismissed the case, but it was expected because the evidence overwhelmingly proves what I've said all along: I wasn't drinking and driving, and I wasn't under the influence of drugs. I never drink and drive, and I have never taken illegal drugs."
"However, this court action does not change the fact that I was subjected to: seven breathalyzer tests -- all of which I passed a urinalysis for drugs and alcohol -- which I also passed a third test I paid for on my own - which I passed and had my reputation sullied for absolutely no reason."
"My reputation is very important to me. I will repeat what I've said before: I will never do anything to jeopardize the trust the people of Plain Township have put in me. For these reasons, I am demanding a formal public and written apology from the North Canton Police Department and the City of North Canton for wrongfully charging me with OVI based on absolutely no evidence. In addition, since North Canton's rebuttal has been issued, I would like to note the following:
"I fully respect the role law enforcement plays in securing the safety of our communities as in many situations where the officer pulls an individual over for suspected operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of a foreign substance may it be alcohol or drugs, that indeed someone is impaired. This is why I respected the judicial process and allowed it to vet out the details. In my specific situation from the beginning I informed the officer I was physically exhausted as I had been up 20-plus hour after a physically intense day of manual labor attributed to a 12- mile training run starting at 5 am that morning, then proceeded by work at Pegasus Farms for the Stark County United Way Day of Caring where we cleared trails and torn down two barns."
"Unfortunately North Canton Police Department audio does not reflect no such discourse because there is only static on the video. To say what I went through was their standard procedure, that may be theirs however that doesn't mean it's the best procedure and I note that based upon feedback I received from other law enforcement representatives"
"I'm going to respectfully disagree that they got everything right because at the end of the day the OVI course of action was taken way too far, considering there was no verifiable test results to prove such impairment by alcohol or drugs and thus such charges where made on strictly a pending urinalysis test for drugs and alcohol."
"As my attorney Jeff Jakmides indicated, "There's no reason why they couldn't have waited (to charge him) until they had the result of the urine test. ... sometimes people just can't admit they made a mistake.""
"Further Attorney Jakmides went on to say while the cruiser video showed Haws' two left tires touched the lane line, he wasn't driving dangerously because his tires never completely crossed the line."
"What should have been a basic traffic violation and cost me approximately $150-200, will cost me substantially more because the charges for an OVI were made before there was any evidence to substantiate their charge or disprove it. Specifically, the apology I sought was related to the OVI charges without supporting evidence being established by the North Canton Police Department."