CLARENCE — Michael B. Hari, a former Ford County sheriff’s deputy and Libertarian candidate for sheriff who notoriously served probation 10 years ago for abducting his two daughters, was arrested Friday for the alleged assault of a neighbor in Clarence.
The Ford County Sheriff’s Office released an incident report Monday detailing how the 46-year-old Hari, amid an argument with his neighbor, allegedly used an "arm-bar takedown" maneuver on his neighbor to restrain him, then pressed an airsoft handgun against the back of his head as he was being held face-down against the back of Hari’s car.
After a witness intervened and separated the two, more words were exchanged between the two men, and Hari then allegedly attacked the neighbor again, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Hari told police that he was only trying to disarm the neighbor until police arrived. Hari said he felt threatened by the presence of a knife in a sheath attached to the neighbor’s belt, plus the fact his neighbor had a "gang tattoo" and tried to grab Hari’s cell phone as he was calling 911 during the argument.
After speaking with the neighbor, identified as Jon-Michael O’Neill, and two witnesses, Ford County Sheriff’s Lt. Curt Miller, however, determined that O’Neill never threatened Hari with a weapon or bodily harm "at any point during the incident" and that the two witnesses "both believed that (Hari) over-reacted for unknown reasons."
Hari was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and was later released from the Ford County Jail in Paxton after posting 10 percent of his $1,500 bond. State’s Attorney Andrew Killian had not yet filed formal charges against Hari as of Monday afternoon in Ford County Circuit Court.
Loose dogs spur argument
According to the incident report, Hari called 911 around 1:45 p.m. Friday to report that O’Neill was armed with a knife in the 200 block of First Street North in Clarence. Upon arrival, Miller spoke with a witness, Danny Eidson, who had separated Hari and O’Neill prior to police arriving. Eidson told Miller that the black plastic airsoft pistol that Hari used was in the rear hatch of Hari’s car, and Miller then removed it from the car and seized it as evidence.
Miller then spoke with Hari, who said he was confronted by O’Neill after arriving at his home at 209 First Street North to drop off some items before leaving for Wisconsin on a business trip. Hari said that O’Neill asked him if he was the owner of the dogs that keep coming into his yard and getting into his trash, causing it to be littered around his yard. Hari said O’Neill told him that he had walked onto Hari’s property earlier in the day in an attempt to speak with him about his dogs, but Hari was not home at the time. Hari said he then informed O’Neill that he had trespassed onto his property, and an argument ensued.
Hari told police that during the argument, he noticed that O’Neill had what he believed to be a gang tattoo on his shoulder and that O’Neill was armed with a fixed-blade knife that was in a leather sheath attached to his belt. Hari said he began to dial 911 when O’Neill tried to grab his phone from his hand.
It was at that point, Hari said, that he grabbed O’Neill by the arm and performed an "arm-bar takedown" in which he bent O’Neill over at the waist and pushed him into the rear hatch area of his car. Hari said he then grabbed the airsoft pistol and held it to O’Neill’s head. Hari said O’Neill offered no resistance at that point and did not say anything. Eidson soon intervened and separated Hari and O’Neill.
As Eidson stood in between them waiting for police to arrive, O’Neill began "running his mouth" and told Hari several times that he was going to "stick you," Hari told Miller.
Hari said he felt threatened by the knife O’Neill was wearing on his belt. According to Hari, O’Neill then took the knife out of the sheath, at which point Hari grabbed O’Neill’s arm and tried to disarm him. In the process, O’Neill threw the knife in the grass, then took off his belt and threw it in the grass, as well.
Alleged victim tells his side
O’Neill told Miller a different story.
O’Neill said that after he approached Hari about his loose dogs and informed him he had entered onto his property earlier in the day, Hari’s mood changed and he became "mad and confrontational." Hari then "started to become more and more upset," O’Neill told Miller, so O’Neill began to back up and walk away. At that point, according to O’Neill, Hari said, "I’ve got something for you, (expletive)," at which time he grabbed O’Neill by his arm, bent him over at the waist and forced him face/chest down on the back of his car. O’Neill said he could then feel something pressed to the back of his head, but he did not know what it was.
O’Neill admitted that he was "running his mouth" at Hari after they were separated by Eidson, but he said he never threatened to "stick him." O’Neill said that when Hari told him he felt threatened by the knife he was wearing, he took the knife out of the sheath to throw the knife away. That was when Hari attacked him, O’Neill said. O’Neill said he was able to throw the knife in the grass and then removed his belt and threw it and the sheath in the grass, as well.
O’Neill said that was the only time he removed the knife from the sheath, adding that he never threatened Hari with it.
Witnesses confirm it
Rita and Danny Eidson confirmed O’Neill’s account of the incident.
They told Miller that "everything was fine" until Hari found out O’Neill had entered onto his property looking for him. They both said Hari "freaked out" at that point. Danny Eidson also confirmed O’Neill’s claim that he only took out his knife in order to throw it away after Hari said he felt threatened by it.
Danny Eidson said that during that second exchange, he saw Hari grabbing O’Neill by the throat. When Danny Eidson intervened, O’Neill was able to throw the knife, sheath and his belt in the grass, the Eidsons said.
While en route to jail, Hari asked Miller whether it would have changed anything if he had used a knife instead of a gun to detain O’Neill, Miller said in the report.
"I advised Michael that it would not have changed anything and informed him that he was never directly threatened by Jon-Michael with a knife or threatened in any other way prior to him detaining Jon-Michael and holding a gun to his head," Miller wrote.
O’Neill later arrived at the jail to speak with Miller, telling Miller that after arriving home he found injuries on the left side of his hip/abdomen area that were caused by Hari when he was forced onto the car.
As seen on TV
Hari served as a Ford County sheriff’s deputy for 18 months and once had owned a gun store in Paxton. He ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian candidate for the sheriff’s position in 1998.
In November 2006, Hari was sentenced to 30 months of probation after a Ford County jury found him guilty of abducting his two daughters, a case that received national attention on "The Dr. Phil Show."
During the two-day trial in October, the prosecution argued Hari did not comply with an April 6, 2005, emergency order by then-Judge Steve Pacey which granted temporary custody of the kids to Hari’s ex-wife, Michelle Frakes of Peoria. Hari’s defense centered on the fact that he had custody of his daughters since 2001, and that when he left with the kids on April 1, 2005, he was not aware of the contents of the April 6 order.
The girls were not returned to the U.S. until February 2006. The girls were living with their father in the Central American country of Belize.