AFRICANGLOBE – A former Oklahoma City police officer was sentenced to 263 years in prison Thursday, about a month after he was convicted of rapes and other offenses targeting Black women that authorities say occurred while he was on duty.
Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, was convicted in December on 18 of the 36 counts he had been facing — including four counts of first-degree rape. News of his sentence comes via the Associated Press, which noted that it followed the jury’s recommendation.
“I think people need to realize that this is not a law enforcement officer that committed these crimes,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said. “This is a rapist who masqueraded as a law enforcement officer. If he was a true law enforcement officer, he would have upheld his duty to protect these citizens rather than victimize them.”
Three victims spoke at the hearing, the trio included a grandmother who reported her assault to the authorities — an action that triggered an investigation. The 263-year sentence would include credit for the time that Holtzclaw has already served.
“It is what it is,” Holtzclaw’s attorney, Scott Adams, told reporters. “It wasn’t a surprise.”
One day before Thursday’s hearing, Adams had filed a motion seeking either an evidentiary hearing or a new trial for his client.
Adams mentioned in his motion an Oklahoma City detective’s posting on social media. In that Facebook post, the lawyer claimed, the man made “statements revealing that there is evidence that was withheld from the defense by the government.” The motion was denied, reports indicated.
Holtzclaw was accused of committing sex crimes against 13 African American women and was convicted of offenses involving eight of the women.
Investigators said the ex-officer, who was fired by the Oklahoma City Police Department after the allegations emerged, used his position and power to target women in a low-income neighborhood. His case was highlighted in an AP report that looked into the problem of sexual misconduct in law enforcement.
“He didn’t choose CEOs or soccer moms; he chose women he could count on not telling what he was doing,” prosecutor Lori McConnell said during closing arguments. “He counted on the fact no one would believe them and no one would care.”
Throughout his trial, women told the jury stories of searches or background checks during encounters with Holtzclaw. Among those who testified against him: a teenager who told the court that Holtzclaw drove her to her mother’s house, then inappropriately touched her after they arrived. She was 17 at the time.
“I so desperately want my life back — the life I had before he took it away,” one of the victims, Jannie Ligons, told the court Thursday in an impact statement.
Ligons previously spoke with reporters after the conviction and recounted what happened after a traffic stop with Holtzclaw, who didn’t take the stand in his defense.
“I was out there alone and helpless, didn’t know what to do,” Ligons said then. “And in my mind, all I could think was that he was going to shoot me, he was going to kill me.”
At the same press conference, another victim, Shardayreon “Sharday” Hill, told reporters that Holtzclaw “started to manipulate” her while she was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
“I was speechless, I was scared,” Hill said then. “When everything was going down — I just, I felt — I mean, I was scared, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was in survival mode, so I had to do what he was making me do.”
The women who testified against Holtzclaw are African American.
After the verdict was announced in December, Holtzclaw sobbed in court and reportedly said, “I didn’t do it,” as he was led away.
By: Sarah Larimer