BODYCAM of Man pulling his firearm on State Troopers during Traffic stop
The police body camera video has the same raw intensity and escalating drama as some nationally released footage that has ended with lethal force.
Only this Dec. 2 traffic stop, for speeding in Delaware County, ended peacefully. Still, it leaves several questions about gun owner's rights, police discretion and the dangers law enforcement faces daily.
According to the State Highway Patrol, trooper Brian Garloch spotted Merak Burr speeding while driving southbound on Interstate 71, clocking him at 85 mph near the Routes 36/37 interchange.
Burr, 25, pulled over and Garloch questioned him before Burr became increasingly agitated. So Garlock called for backup from Genoa Township police officer Mike Sigman and his K9 Ben.
When Sigman arrived, he asked Burr repeatedly to exit the car. Burr refused.
"Put your hands on the steering wheel," Sigman ordered.
"No," Burr replied.
"I will send the dog on you," Sigman answered.
Burr repeatedly said his rights were being violated and wanted to know if the body camera was on. "This is not how we act civilly," he said.
"You just put your hand on a gun sir," said Garlock, holding Burr's left forearm.
"No, no, no. You pulled a gun on me. It was in response," Burr replied.
Burr maintained throughout that his gun was not concealed but visible to anyone looking into the vehicle. He eventually pulled his arm free, closed the door and drove away.
Genoa Township Police Chief Steve Gammill described the stop as "a very tense situation that could have turned out tragically." He said both officers "acted with great restraint and professionalism."
Sean Maloney, a criminal defense attorney who represents the Buckeye Firearms Association agreed, but said such restraint too easily could have ended in gunfire.
Maloney said that Burr likely didn't know state law when he told officers that his gun was visible and therefore not concealed.
"As soon as you carry it into the car, it's considered concealed," he said. A concealed weapon requires a permit.
Maloney said the officers, and Burr, should feel fortunate that they weren't shot.
"You get pulled over. You have a gun on your seat. You're not a concealed-carry owner. You're breaking the law. And you get combative and argue. That just doesn't make sense."
Maloney said the trooper and officer "should have arrested him immediately for their own safety and for his. It only takes two seconds for him to reach over and start firing."
Burr, of Utah, continued south into Columbus, followed with lights and sirens by Garloch.
But the chase was called off as it entered Upper Arlington, the patrol said. A "be on the lookout alert," or BOLA, was issued.
Burr was stopped about two hours later in Colerain Township in Hamilton County. He was charged with improper handling of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and driving on a closed highway. The roadway had been closed because cattle had earlier escaped and were being rounded up.
Charges are pending against Burr in Delaware County.
Ohio is an open-carry state, meaning you can carry a weapon anywhere, openly.
But without a concealed carry permit, gun owners are not permitted to have a loaded gun in a vehicle or on a motorcycle, according to state law.
Law enforcement officers who run license plates through a computer database quickly know if someone has a concealed-carry permit, but only if they reside in Ohio.
Ohio, and most states, require the permit holder to tell officers they have a gun with them during traffic stops. Burr did not.
Sgt. Nathan Dennis, of the State Highway Patrol, said that troopers always factor officer and civilian safety into every decision that they make.
"The restraint showed by the officers is evidence of that," Dennis said.
Motorists who are stopped, "especially at night, should turn on your dome light, keep your hands on the wheel and comply with all direction," he said.