NORMAN — Two men reported as escapees from the McClain County jail were arrested Monday by Norman Police, but one of those eluded law enforcement officers for several hours before being apprehended by a Norman K-9 unit.
Taylor Daniel Brotherton, 27, was arrested about 3:30 p.m. in a mobile home park on Brooks Street, near Whittier Middle School. Officer Lance Harper and his K-9 partner Remco found Brotherton hiding under a mobile home.
“At this point, we have no charges on (Brotherton),” Norman Police Sgt. Jennifer Newell said. “We released him to McClain County.”
Officers had discontinued their search, and the public schools ended their lock-down earlier Monday afternoon. Norman police maintained a presence at Alcott, Whittier and Jackson schools throughout the rest of the school day.
“Nobody had seen him,” Newell said. “When you can’t find someone, it’s always good to go back to the point where you started.”
Newell said a patrol officer spotted the suspect, who saw the officer and ran. Plain clothes officers tried to follow, but the suspect disappeared.
“They saw where he ran to and brought the dog in,” Newell said.
Several K-9 units had been involved in the search earlier in the day. Harper and Remco were nearby and arrived on the scene quickly.
“It was a fresh track,” Harper said. “I deployed the dog. He pulled me to this trailer where the suspect was hiding underneath it.”
Harper said he called out a warning and told the suspect to come out, but there was no response. He sent Remco under the trailer, where the dog got the suspect by the jacket and brought him out.
Newell said police K-9 partners are valuable members of the law enforcement team.
“Most everyone is afraid of a patrol dog,” Newell said.
Without the dog, police would have needed more resources to surround the trailer and bring Brotherton out. He had been reported as possibly armed, indicating potential danger for law enforcement officers.
No weapon was found on Brotherton at the time of his apprehension, Newell said.
Earlier in the day, helicopters buzzed over Norman and law enforcement officials from at least five agencies converged in the area east of 24th Avenue Southwest between Lindsey and Main streets in search of Brotherton.
Brotherton was a trusty at McClain County jail out on a work detail with three other trusties at the Expo Center in Purcell. On an ordinary day, the prisoners clean horse stalls and pick up trash.
“We’ve had this program for sometime,” McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett said. “We’re trying to figure out if it was a chance of opportunity or if it was prearranged.”
Brotherton was working Monday with Chase Clemmons, 21, and two older inmates. Brotherton and Clemmons allegedly stole a county vehicle, a brown Dodge pickup, and escaped. The other inmates did not attempt to escape, Hewett said.
McClain County Sheriff’s investigators are interviewing Clemmons and the others for more information on why the pair chose to run. Both men were being held on low bond, drug possession charges. They met the requirements to serve as trusties in the work detail program. Neither has a history of violence — a requirement to serve as trusty.
Following the escape, a Washington, Okla., police officer parked near a convenience store heard the dispatch report and recognized the pickup as it passed through Washington. He took up pursuit and was soon joined by McClain County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Hewett said when the truck driven by the escapees crossed the river bridge, the Norman Police Department took over the pursuit.
The prisoners crashed the truck into a stockade fence and Clemmons was captured. According to Sheriff Hewett, Clemmons said Brotherton had a weapon when he left the pickup, but that alleged weapon has not been found.
“We did find ammunition when we checked the pickup,” Hewett said.
McClain County officials are investigating how Brotherton might have obtained a handgun. Officials have not confirmed that Brotherton was ever in possession of a gun.
More than 50 officers were involved in the search. Police concentrated on the area near 24th Avenue Southwest and Brooks Street.
During the search, a police command post was set up and all Norman schools were temporarily placed on lock-down. Officers set up a perimeter to keep the pair from crossing Interstate 35. Police were set up as far west as McGee Drive and as far north as Main Street.
The search included representatives from the OU Police Department, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Cleveland and McClain County Sheriff’s departments and the U.S. Marshal Service’s Fugitive Task Force.
Harper and his dog became partners in November.
“I’m new to the K-9 team,” Harper said, “but I’ve been with Norman since July 2007.”
Harper said his love for dogs prompted him to seek K-9 duty.
“I guess you can just call me a dog guy,” he said.
Norman has four K-9s at this time, three dual-purpose patrol dogs, including Remco, and Kilo, a drug dog.
Newell commended Norman Public Schools for their good working relationship with Norman police.
“Because the schools and the police in Norman have such a close relationship, the schools locked down very quickly,” she said.