Clayton Callahan was upset.
The 30-year-old resident of 10 Shady Lane in Palm Coast, a felon and a frequent tenant at the county jail on a rash of battery charges, including battery on law enforcement or paramedics–he was convicted on an assault charge after spitting at a sheriff’s deputy in 2017–had just been issued a trespass warning at the Hammock Publix. But not long afterward, he flagged down the same deputy who’d issued the warning and urged the deputy to go after an unidentified SUV that had supposedly taken off with Callahan’s belongings, and those of Calvin Stull, a friend also at the scene.
“We had no time to get the tag. They took all my shit, man,” Callahan in full agitation told the deputy, according to footage recorded on the deputy’s body camera. “I stepped in front of them, they hit me with the car, and they drove off.” He then tells the deputy: “They just took off with everything we own. Go find them.”
“So I’m going to go look for a black SUV?” the deputy begins to say, but by then Callahan has already turned his back, waved him off and hurled his first insult. It would not be his last. He then turns around and again tells the deputy, who is seeking more formal statements, to “go find them.” He then throws his vape pen, apparently at the deputy’s car: the pen makes a distinct pinging sound against metal.
“Statements for what? They just robbed us blind,” Callahan says, echoing his friend’s words. “All of our money, all of our clothes, all of our…” Callahan is screaming. As the deputy is telling them that he knows nothing about the car other than it’s a black SUV, and a third individual, Michelle Kovach, arrives, Callahan approaches him from the left and hurls his cell phone at the patrol car. That immediately prompts the deputy–Jason Prather, an 11-year veteran on the force–to draw his firearm and radio in the heightened situation.
Callahan walks off but continues to hurl insults and yelling his disbelief that the cop is asking for statements, then he returns and starts yelling insults combined with the vilest racist invectives–and a threat: “I’ll cut you,” he tells Prather, pulling out a knife and repeatedly using the n-word against him.
“Now we’re talking something different,” Prather is heard saying, just as the segment of the body camera footage the sheriff’s office made available cuts off.
Callahan’s arrest report states that he ran off, and that a woman with his last name called 911 to report that he was trying to get into the house at 12 South Shady Lane, and was bleeding on the porch. He would later attribute the cuts to when he was running through the woods. When deputies located him outside 10 Shady Lane, he allegedly ran off again. Deputies had to set up a perimeter, bring in a K-9 unit and go on searching until they found him walking out of the woods near 11 Magnolia Road.
Video picks up to Callahan’s question: “What am I going to jail for?” When he’s told of aggravated assault against a police officer, he complains that all he did was throw his cell phone at the patrol car. The deputy tells him that “saying that you’re going to cut me or kill me” was more than throwing a cell phone.
Callahan asked to be taken to the hospital, then changes his mind and says he was “hungry and starving.” Moments later he’s negotiating with Prather. “That’s assault,” he tells the deputy. “That’s not aggravated assault.” He clearly knows the difference between felony gradations. “I walked away, did I not? I didn’t come at you. I walked away.”
“You pulled a knife, told me you were going to kill me, and that’s when I pulled a gun on you, remember that part? OK, well, you put me in a fear where I pulled a gun on you because I thought you were going to come and cut me.”
Callahan was charged with Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer and Resisting Arrest and booked at the county jail on $10,500 bond.
“Our deputies once again showed great restraint in a violent and dangerous encounter,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Our de-escalation training and their experience paid off and I commend them for taking this subject into custody without anyone getting injured. Great work by our newest K-9 team in quickly locating the suspect.”
“Regarding the black SUV,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said, “deputies responded to the Citgo gas station where the two subjects allegedly entered the SUV to receive a ride. There was no surveillance footage to corroborate that story and the clerk did not recall seeing the subjects on scene during that time. They are still investigating to determine if anything occurred.”