UPDATE (Sept. 1, 2017): The McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday that it is now turning the investigation over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to continue.
The brother and son of an escaped federal prisoner in southeastern Oklahoma say they were assaulted and injured by a group of federal agents as both they and the agents were searching for the escaped man.
The McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation last week into allegations by Bobby Victory, 37, and Aaron Paul Victory Jr., 19, that agents for the U.S. Marshals Service detained and beat them after they encountered the marshals while searching for Aaron Paul Victory Sr., 38, who escaped from the Choctaw County Jail on Aug. 7.
A third man, Todd Story, 37, who had been accompanying the Victorys, was also allegedly assaulted.
None of the three men were arrested by law enforcement after the alleged incident, and the escapee, who is also a federal prisoner, was not found.
On Friday, McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy said his office has turned its investigation over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which in turn is also bringing the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the case because of the alleged involved of federal law enforcement officers.
“This case has gone across some different lines. It’s honestly getting bigger than we’ve got the means to deal with,” Clardy said. “We just want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.”
Court records show that Aaron Victory Sr. had accepted a 5-year plea agreement in early May on a federal felony charge of a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm stemming from an incident that occurred in December in Choctaw County. Victory was being held by the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting sentencing until July 24, when he was ordered by a judge to be taken to Choctaw County, where he faced state charges of burglary, grand larceny, knowingly concealing stolen property and feloniously pointing a firearm, court records show.
According to a U.S. Marshal’s affidavit, on the evening of Aug. 7 — three days before his preliminary hearing — Victory broke out a window out of his cell at the Choctaw County Jail, stood on a table and trash can and slid through a slotted metal shade to get into the jail’s ceiling and then was able to climb onto the roof.
Once on the jail’s roof, Victory fashioned electrical cords into a makeshift rope to climb down and then fled the scene on foot, the affidavit states.
On Aug. 21, federal prosecutors filed escape charges against Victory, and a federal warrant was issued for his arrest. His whereabouts are still unknown.
Bobby Victory and Delinda Webb, Aaron Victory Sr.’s sister, both told The Frontier that they have not seen or heard from their brother and fear for his safety.
On the evening of Aug. 23, Bobby Victory said he decided to go looking for his brother at some of the places they used to visit and hang out at while growing up. Bobby Victory’s friend, Todd Story, 37, said he would accompany him and the two men headed on horseback toward an area near Glover River in McCurtain County.
Federal and local law enforcement had been scouring the Glover River area for days for signs of Aaron Victory Sr., Webb said, since he was found near that area after both of his previous escapes.
As he and Story traveled toward the area on horseback, Bobby Victory said, they encountered a group of several U.S. Marshals and county deputies who were searching for his brother staged at the Swink Volunteer Fire Department.
Victory said he told the law enforcement officers where he was going and what he was doing – to search for his brother in the area near a broken bridge on the Glover River – and they said he could proceed.
Story and Bobby Victory continued east on an old railroad track, he said. Sometime after dark, Bobby Victory and Story came to a house where Aaron Victory Jr. was at and told him to saddle up a horse and help them in the search, according to an affidavit by Aaron Victory Jr. taken by the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office.
The three men continued on horseback east on the old railroad track, Aaron Jr. and Bobby Victory said.
Around midnight, Jennifer Womack, who is Story’s girlfriend, said U.S. Marshals pulled up to her home and began to search the property, as well as her cell phone. Womack said she did not give permission for the search and no search warrant was ever shown to her. They wanted to know where Aaron Victory Sr. was, she said.
Womack said she did not know, and the conversation with the law enforcement officers was becoming somewhat loud, when Story – who had fallen behind Aaron Victory Jr. and Bobby Victory after seeing law enforcement vehicles headed toward her house nearby – rode his horse into her driveway.
Womack told The Frontier that the marshals pointed their guns at Story, pulled him off his horse, put his face into the ground and kicked him in the ribs.
A report from the Choctaw Memorial Hospital Emergency Department obtained by The Frontier states that doctors who examined Story on Thursday found that he had multiple rib fractures on his right side.
Womack said Marshals then loaded Story up into a vehicle and left.
Meanwhile, Aaron Victory Jr. and Bobby Victory said they were unaware that Story had gone to Womack’s house. They thought he had just fallen behind because his horse was slower and they were continuing east, they said.
The two left the railroad tracks and continued on a nearby road. Near the intersection of Browning Road and Old State Highway 98, they said they saw a group of several U.S. Marshals waiting.
“They ambushed me right there, me and my nephew,” Bobby Victory said.
The Victorys said Bobby was ahead of Aaron Jr., and the Marshals pulled Bobby off his horse. One of the Marshals, who was holding a “combat helmet” got Bobby in a headlock and began to threaten him, Bobby Victory said.
“He said ‘If you lie to me one time, boy, I’ll smash this motherf***er into your teeth,’” Victory said. “I didn’t say nothing else.”
Bobby Victory said he was then flanked by two larger U.S. Marshals, who began to put leather gloves on as he was questioned by a third Marshal, who he had met with right after his brother escaped and who he had called right before riding off that afternoon.
Bobby Victory said the Marshal accused him and his sister of lying to investigators and demanded to know where his brother was.
“He said ‘I’ll ask you one time, Where’s your brother?’” Victory said. When he began to say “I don’t know,” one of the Marshals punched him behind the ear, Victory said. He was punched again when his answers were not satisfactory, Victory said.
At one point, Victory said he fought back and headbutted a Marshal. For that, he said, several law enforcement agents jumped on him and was beaten, shocked with a Taser and had his eyes gouged.
During the ordeal, Victory said he could see some of the law enforcement agents taking pictures with their cell phones and sharing them on social media.
Meanwhile, a McCurtain County Deputy who was allegedly at the scene approached Aaron Victory Jr., and told him to get off his horse, Aaron Victory Jr.’s statement to investigators states. Bobby Victory too said he saw the deputy at the scene, and had known him for some time.
When Aaron Victory Jr. had gotten one foot out of the stirrups, he was dragged off the horse and thrown to the ground, he said.
Aaron Victory Jr.’s statement alleges that the U.S. Marshal put his boot on Victory’s head while someone handcuffed him. Lappin, Victory’s statement alleges, told him “You know after they get done whooping Bobby Dan they are coming over to you next.”
Another U.S. Marshal then approached, Victory’s statement says, and said “Oh don’t tell me this is junior,” before rolling Victory over onto his back and slapping in the face with his leather gloves.
“The Marshal was saying ‘Tell me where your daddy is, you lying piece of s**t,” Victory’s statement reads. “The Marshal kept slapping me across the face, and I could not get a word out in between slaps. The Marshal told me ‘We ain’t McCurtain or Choctaw Sheriff’s we are the real deal.’”
Aaron Victory Jr. then said he was picked up by two Marshals and dragged across the road and down a gravel road to where he could no longer see his uncle, and was questioned about his father’s whereabouts and whether his uncle knew where his father was.
When he told the Marshals he did not know, one of them put a thumb in his eye and grabbed him by the throat and made threats against his uncle, the statement reads.
When more law enforcement agents arrived at the scene, Aaron Victory Jr. said he was then taken to a black Chevrolet Tahoe with Police K-9 written on it and put in a dog cage.
“They put me in a cage next to the dog, but there was a partition between me and the dog,” Aaron Victory Jr. statement reads. “The dog was very angry, and was barking and aggressive towards me. They left me in the cage, and when the(y) opened the door the next time it was daylight and we were in Herndon.”
Herndon is a small community several miles away from where the incident allegedly occurred.
Aaron Victory Jr. said the Marshals took him to at a friend’s house, took him out of the vehicle and removed his handcuffs, but before releasing him one Marshal asked if last night was rough.
“I told them in a sarcastic voice that it wasn’t too bad,” Aaron Victory Jr.’s statement reads. “The Marshal then told me that this could happen every night for the rest of my life or until they find my dad. He told me if I didn’t want my family dead, that I better go find my dad. He then told me I had some work to do, then they all left.”
Aaron Victory Jr. said he then went to his aunt Delinda Webb’s house, and she took him to the Texoma Medical Center in Denison, Texas, for treatment.
Webb said her nephew suffered a broken jaw and fractured cheek, as well as multiple other bruising and injuries.
Story was brought to the scene by the other Marshals who had taken him from Womack’s house, and he was told to return the Victory’s two horses home, Bobby Victory said.
Bobby Victory said he eventually told the Marshals that he had enough and would show them where his brother was and was put in a vehicle. However, Bobby said he did not really know where his brother was, so he pointed the investigators to a random house.
“Every time I would tell the truth, I would get the f**k knocked out of me,” Bobby said. “I couldn’t wait until daylight. I was praying for daylight.”
Bobby said he was released shortly before 7 a.m., but one of the Marshals told him that he would be thrown in federal prison for assaulting a federal marshal and aiding an escapee if he did not find his brother, Victory told The Frontier.
Bobby said he went to a hospital and reported what happened to an investigator for the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office.
Bobby suffered a broken nose, injuries to his eye and head as well as other bruising and swelling, he said.
Curtis Fields, of the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office, said he is investigating the case, and substantiated some of the injuries suffered by the Victorys, though he said he had yet not gotten all of the medical records.
Fields said he has yet to receive statements from the U.S. Marshals involved in the case.
“Right now, all I have is the victim’s side of the story,” Fields said. “The marshalls have prepared their statements but it’s going through their chain of command.”
McCurtain County District Attorney Mark Matloff said it’s not clear what charges, if any might be warranted — or who would file those charges — since the investigation is still in its early stages.
“It’s hard to say, not yet knowing on what the investigation reveals, whether I keep it or the Attorney General’s office takes it or the federal government takes it or it turns out to be nothing, I have no idea,” Matloff said.
However, Matloff said he has told investigators to remain on the case for the time being. The Marshals involved, Matloff said, are a mix of deputized Marshals from local law enforcement and commissioned Marshals.
“The Sheriff’s Office here in McCurtain County is working on it,” Matloff said. “I’ve instructed them to keep investigating it until someone else decides they have jurisdiction or authority over it, which would be maybe another federal agency. But that has not happened and at this point I don’t anticipate that happening.”
Dustin Ramsey, supervisory deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service, said he could say little about the investigation at this point, and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oklahoma’s Eastern District, located in Muskogee, is vetting the statements before sending them to the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s under pending investigation right now,” Ramsey said. “It appears that basic agency protocol was met, but I cannot comment on what happened at this point because it is pending investigation.”
Delinda Webb said the family has retained an attorney, and the shock of what happened to her brothers is still fresh.
“I’m still in shock. We all are,” Webb said. “We feel violated. We don’t feel safe anymore.”
As of Thursday night, Aaron Victory Sr. had still not been found.