A Norcross man who drove at speeds up to 130 miles per hour in the wrong lane of Interstate 85 early Sunday morning expressed dismay that police thought he’d done anything wrong.
A Commerce officer working the interstate received a lookout from Banks County about a vehicle traveling south in the northbound lane of I-85. The officer awaited the vehicle at an exit ramp and, when he saw it approaching, deployed “stop sticks,” only to see the driver swerve and avoid them.
The officer gave chase — two cars barreling down I-85 going the wrong way — trying desperately to get the driver to pull over. He reported oncoming cars swerving to avoid head-on collisions as the chase hit 100 mph.
The officer broke off the chase, switched to the southbound lane, caught up with the vehicle and tried to convince the driver via flashing lights and the vehicle’s PA system to pull over.
The driver, later identified as Darnell Prince Clifton, 24, 5705 Singleton Road, Norcross, kept both hands on the steering wheel, stared straight ahead and ignored the officer. His speed hit 100 mph, later 130 mph, the officer wrote, until he finally slowed down, drove his car into the median and stopped.
With his gun drawn, the officer said he approached the vehicle and yelled for the driver to shut off the car and put his hands up, but Clifton ignored him, the arrest report said. After a backup officer arrived, they finally got Clifton to unlock the car, at which time he asked, “Why are you being so mean to me?” according to the arrest report.
The officers pulled him out and placed him prone on the ground.
“He began to complain that he was being beat up,” the officer wrote. “However, no blows were thrown ...” The suspect complained that police “were messing with him and he did not see what the big deal was.” He also denied fleeing from officers and said he “tried to slow down” three times and complained that the interstate highway was “very confusing.”
On the way to the Jackson County Jail, Clifton allegedly complained that “I ain’t did nothing,” that he didn’t run into anyone and that he was flashing his lights to warn oncoming motorists.
He was charged with driving under the influence (DUI), reckless conduct, reckless driving, criminal interference with government property, driving the wrong way on a one-way road, failure to maintain a lane, aggressive driving and fleeing and attempting to elude. Police also discovered that he had an outstanding burglary warrant from Williamsburg, VA.