Man charged with aggravated battery after allegedly ramming van into sheriff’s vehicle near Clinton Dam

A 30-year-old Lawrence man was charged Wednesday with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer after allegedly ramming his van into a Douglas County sheriff’s vehicle Aug. 13 on the road crossing Clinton Dam.

Law enforcement officials said Daniel Caton Jr. drove his van into a sheriff’s deputy’s car with the intention of harming them both.

Lawrence Police Department spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley and sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Steve Lewis said in a joint press release earlier this month that a sheriff’s deputy was driving south on the dam road at 3:30 p.m. when a driver behind him slowed, then rapidly increased his speed and headed for the deputy.

“He initially thought the driver was preparing to pass, but then realized the driver intended to ram his patrol car,” the news release said.

Caton then “forcefully struck” the rear of the patrol car, causing the lieutenant to hit the steering wheel and Caton to injure himself, the news release said. Neither party suffered any life-threatening injuries, but Caton was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

During his first appearance Wednesday, Caton, who is not in custody, asked for his charge to be formally read to him, stating, “I don’t understand the charge.”

When Douglas County District Court Judge James T. George attempted to clarify the charge for him, Caton grew irritated, causing a disturbance in the courtroom.

After George set Caton’s next appearance in court for Thursday, Caton stormed out of the courtroom, turning over his shoulder in the doorway to shout at George as he left.