Walker man faces criminal charges for running over his passenger
The victim exited vehicle to get a bag of chips when he fell behind the vehicle and the defendant backed over him, the court document stated.
WALKER — A Walker man, accused of driving drunk and running over his 60-year-old passenger last week in a convenience store parking lot in rural Walker, now faces criminal charges.
Merrill Edward Cloud, 48, was arraigned Friday, Aug. 21, in Cass County District Court in Walker with felony driving while intoxicated, felony criminal vehicular operation that caused substantial bodily harm and gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety.
If convicted, the felony DWI charge has a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Cloud, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office received a report Aug. 19 of a vehicle hitting a pedestrian and then driving away at Orton’s Y Mart Convenience Store. The responding deputy located the suspect vehicle and identified the driver as Cloud. The deputy could smell the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle, Cloud’s speech was slurred and he had bloodshot eyes.
Cloud refused to take a field sobriety test but agreed to take the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, measuring the involuntary jerking of one’s eyes when they gaze to the side. During the test the deputy noted signs of impairment, the complaint stated. Cloud refused a breath test. He was arrested and a search warrant was obtained for a blood draw from the defendant.
A lieutenant with the sheriff’s office responded to the store and observed several people standing around a man lying on his back in the parking lot. A store employee was holding the victim’s back and a towel on the man’s head, attempting to control bleeding. The man appeared to be breathing but was not conscious.
Several witnesses saw the SUV run the victim over and then leave the parking lot. The lieutenant observed a tire track on the victim’s shirt running over his stomach and chest.
A landing zone for air care was secured and the victim was transported to a Fargo, North Dakota, hospital. The sheriff’s office identified the victim Monday as Darrell Dean Johnson of Walker.
Another sheriff’s deputy met with a person who was a backseat passenger in Cloud’s vehicle when he ran over Johnson. That witness stated Johnson was also a backseat passenger in the vehicle and exited to get a bag of chips. Johnson fell behind the vehicle and Cloud backed over him. The witness told the deputy he told Cloud to stop and Cloud replied, “... he should not have been back there,” according to the criminal complaint.
According to court documents, Cloud was convicted of felony DWI in 2005, 2010 and 2016.