By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES –– Fewer than 24 hours after Clallam County prosecutors erroneously ordered the release from jail of a man accused of assaulting a deputy, they were granted a bench warrant for his arrest.
Matthew K. McDaniel, 27, who had been arrested Sunday night for investigation of assaulting Clallam County Deputy Mark Millet, was released from jail without charges Monday afternoon.
“It was a mistake,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Nichols said Tuesday.
McDaniel told the Peninsula Daily News from a borrowed cellphone at 1:41 p.m. Tuesday that he probably would turn himself in after taking care of some personal business; he couldn't be reached later.
As of 5 p.m., he had not surrendered to authorities, said Clallam County Sheriff's Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron.
A formal charge of assault in the third degree of a law enforcement officer, a Class C felony, was filed in Superior Court before Judge S. Brooke Taylor on Tuesday afternoon, Nichols said.
Judge Taylor issued a warrant for McDaniel's arrest and fixed bail at $10,000.
“This was a blown call,” Nichols said, “due to what I'll call a perfect storm of increased caseload and decreased resources.”
McDaniel was taken into custody Sunday by deputies after allegedly shoving and shouting at Millet.
The deputy was reportedly attempting to evict McDaniel, who was sleeping in his car, from Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim for being there after the dusk closing time.
McDaniel began yelling obscenities and moved toward Millet as Millet approached his vehicle, Cameron said Monday.
Cameron's report said McDaniel pushed the deputy before Millet deployed his stun gun to subdue McDaniel.
Investigators reported they found a loaded Springfield XD .40 pistol with 16 rounds of ammunition, along with evidence of alcohol and marijuana, while searching McDaniel's car after they impounded it.
Chief Corrections Deputy Ron Sukert confirmed McDaniel was released on an order from the prosecutor's office at 2:03 p.m. Monday.
Nichols attributed the error to an “unusually high number of suspects” arrested and placed into custody over the weekend, coupled with the prosecutor's office being short-staffed.
That forced the prosecutor's office to put a deputy normally assigned to the office's civil division, which represents the county and its agencies and officials, to work on criminal cases, Nichols said.
“And some of the instructions got lost in translation,” Nichols said.
Nichols said that the McDaniel should have been charged, or kept in jail on a 72-hour hold.
But instead the decision was made to release him, with charges to be filed later.
Prosecutor Deborah Kelly apologized to Deputy Millet in an email Tuesday that was provided to the PDN by the deputy's father, Alan Millet, a Sequim attorney.
“I apologize to you as this should not have happened,” Kelly wrote. “I am deeply sorry.”
In a phone call Monday night, McDaniel told the PDN he recently lost his job as a welder and has been living out of his vehicle.
McDaniel was booked into jail for investigation of third-degree assault on an officer and of second-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
“This case raises serious concerns over officer safety,” Nichols said.
“And our office is taking corrective action to file felony charges against Mr. McDaniel.”
McDaniel's release was the second time in six months a Clallam County inmate had been erroneously let out of jail before being charged.
A paperwork mix-up by staff in the county jail was given as the reason that Lavan A. Lukes in September walked out of jail with other inmates being discharged before he could be charged on the two counts of fourth-degree assault for which he had been arrested.
Lukes later turned himself into authorities.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.