McDaniel— Oxygen tank ran low after tornado
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
A 91-year-old Clovis man has been arrested for hitting a police officer with a vehicle at a checkpoint for a tornado-damaged neighborhood, according to police and court records.
Clinton McDaniel was returning to his home the morning after a March 23 tornado destroyed about 100 Clovis homes and businesses to retrieve an oxygen tank needed for breathing, according to McDaniel’s attorney, Daniel Lindsey. McDaniel had left his home earlier in the day to have breakfast with his son. Lindsey said his client panicked when police refused to let him return to his home.
McDaniel was charged Thursday with aggravated assault. He was released later that day on a $20,000 bond.
Lindsey said McDaniel had been redirected from three other checkpoints when he arrived at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Brady Avenue. That’s when officers would not let him proceed.
“I know the police officers are there to enforce the law (but) he was scared,” said McDaniel’s granddaughter, Kacy Baca. “He didn’t think he did anything wrong.”
McDaniel was staying at his home, which was undamaged but without electricity, at night but was leaving during the day to eat his meals, Lindsey said.
Lindsey said his client told the officers multiple times his oxygen was running out and even asked if they would escort him to his home.
“He thought he was going to die,” Lindsey said.
A police incident report said McDaniel never told officials why he needed to enter his home and said he instead sat in his truck cursing at officers to let him through.
Clovis Police Lt. Jim Schoeffel declined to comment on particulars in the case. Police set up checkpoints in south Clovis after the tornado to aid emergency cleanup efforts.
“Regardless of the individual’s age, we have guys out there doing a dangerous job and they need to be protected,” Schoeffel said. “The laws have to be applied across the board regardless of (age).”
The police incident report shows McDaniel’s vehicle struck Clovis Police Officer Darren Roach about 11 a.m. on March 24, knocking the officer to the ground.
The report said McDaniel cursed and shouted obscenities at the officers as he revved his vehicle’s engine prior to hitting Roach.
The report said police told McDaniel nobody was being allowed past the checkpoint.
Roach was treated for injuries and prescribed pain relief medication, the report said.
Lindsey said his client sat at the checkpoint trying to explain his medical need to the officers for more than five minutes, most of that time with his engine off. McDaniel made the decision to drive through when his oxygen ran out and he began to feel dizzy, Lindsey said.
McDaniel is not doing well since the arrest, Baca said.