For about six months, Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw preyed on women — all African-American — in one of Oklahoma’s poorest neighborhoods, exploiting his police badge to intimidate them into keeping quiet.
Prosecutors say the Oklahoma City officer selected his victims based on their criminal histories, figuring their drug or prostitution records would undermine any claims they might make against him.
Then, he would subject them to assaults that escalated from groping to oral sodomy and rape.
On Thurs. Dec. 8, his 29th birthday, Holtzclaw rocked back and forth in his chair, sobbing, as the judge read the verdict.
On Friday, Holtzclaw was under suicide watch in the Oklahoma County jail, and a sheriff’s deputy or detention officer was sitting outside his cell to monitor him, Sheriff John Whetsel told CNN affiliate KFOR.
Holtzclaw ruthless scheme started to unravel after one woman told authorities he had assaulted her during a traffic stop in June 2014.
In the months that followed, investigators pieced together the horrifying scale of his pattern of abuse. Investigators later found a total of 13 alleged victims, all African-American. The assaults took place in range of places, including in his police car. One young woman, only 17 at the time, was raped on her mother’s front porch. He was eventually charged with
He was fired from the force in January after an internal investigation.
Holtzclaw’s trial began in early November and was criticized by activists after an all-white jury was chosen to decide on crimes committed against black women. Protesters repeatedly gathered outside.
Holtzclaw, whose father is white and mother is Japanese, is identified as “Asian or Pacific Islander” by court records.
“He didn’t choose CEOs or soccer moms; he chose women he could count on not telling what he was doing,” the prosecution said in its closing statement this week.
The defense questioned the credibility of Holtzclaw’s accusers, arguing some of them were high when the purported assaults took place. It also challenged the validity of DNA evidence.
District Attorney David Prater said the jurors’ decision not to convict the former police officer on half of the counts against him didn’t necessarily mean they didn’t believe some of the women.
“It may mean that we didn’t meet our burden (of proof) in those counts,” he said.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing some of the victims in civil litigation against the city, criticized the national media for not covering the trial in which the victims were “poor, black women.”
“Where is the national outcry for their justice?” asked Crump, who has also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Crump said other women had earlier called police about Holtzclaw, so “we need to find out how aggressive they (police) were” in their investigation.
Oklahoma City NAACP President Garland Pruitt said is waiting until Holtzclaw’s sentencing in January to see if justice will be served. He said “the system has a reputation of not being fair.”
“Don’t let this be the only time that you come forward when people of color confront you with a situation that is not always favorable to your so-called dialect,” Pruitt told the media.
More than 250 years of prison recommended
The jurors recommended a total of 263 years of prison time for Holtzclaw’s crimes. Formal sentencing is set for next month.
“We’re going to ask the judge to make sure that this defendant never sees the light of day,” District Attorney David Prater said. “And we’re going to ask him to run consecutive, every count.”