Fresno Police say McDaniel crashed into another car as he tried to get away from a police helicopter Wednesday night. The crash killed Earnest Grant, 55.
Neighbors of Earnest Grant were in shock Thursday; a day after the 55-year-old was struck and killed by a driver trying to escape police. "It's tragic that something like this happened, a genuinely nice guy," said A.J. Augusto, the victim's neighbor.
Walter McDaniel, 36, is accused of ramming a stolen 2008 Infinity car into Grant's vehicle on Marks and North in Fresno County. Undercover Fresno Police officers were acting on a tip that McDaniel was in a stolen car with a 13-year-old boy and a woman. But there are a lot of questions as to why McDaniel was out of jail in the first place.
Late last month, McDaniel was arrested on suspicion of child concealment after he was found with a missing 10-year-old boy. The Fresno County District Attorney's office never filed charges in the case so McDaniel was released. But McDaniel already had a $100,000 warrant for his arrest in Madera County.
"The sheriff's office here in Fresno County held him lawfully for the time allotted. Madera County didn't pick him up for whatever reasons," said Captain Neil Dadian with the Fresno County Sheriff's office. The office provided proof they had contacted the Madera County Jail asking them to come pick up McDaniel – but that never happened.
"I don't know if there was an error, where the error occurred. All I can say is based upon my experience with our county jail, the department of corrections has been very diligent all along," said Madera County District Attorney, Michael Keitz.
The Madera warrant was based on six felony charges from a DUI accident earlier this year. Action News was told McDaniel was under the influence of alcohol while driving a stolen car with a child inside. That appears to be a recurring theme for a man who has a long criminal history of stealing cars and having kids in his car that aren't his own.
McDaniel has not been booked into the Fresno County Jail just yet. He remains in the hospital where he's being treated for minor injuries sustained in the collision. He faces additional charges, including vehicular manslaughter.