Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, convicted last month on 18 counts of rape and sexual assault, will spend the rest of his life in jail following a sentencing hearing Thursday.
Holtzclaw was an Oklahoma City cop at the time of the offenses, and prosecutors successfully showed a pattern of abuse wherein the former officer targeted vulnerable women while working his beat in a low-income neighborhood in northeast Oklahoma City.
According to CNN, the former Oklahoma City cop’s first offense occurred during a June 2014 traffic stop, and he was fired in 2015 following an internal investigation. When his case finally went to trial, he was accused of 36 counts of rape and sexual assault against 13 victims. He was ultimately convicted of 18 of those counts, and the jury recommended a maximum sentence.
Oklahoma District Judge Timothy Henderson agreed with the jury, and Holtzclaw was sentenced to a total of 263 years in prison. The former Oklahoma City cop will serve the term consecutively, so he will spend the rest of his life in prison, absent of an appeal or parole.
— Graham Lee Brewer (@grahambrewer) January 21, 2016
Holtzclaw’s 13 victims were uniformly African-American residents of one of Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhoods, according to CNN. The youngest was just 17 when she was raped by Holtzclaw on her mother’s porch, but it was a 57-year-old grandmother who ultimately took the ex-cop down.
According CNN, Jannie Ligons, a 57-year-old woman with 12 grandchildren, was pulled over in a low-income neighborhood of northeast Oklahoma City for an alleged moving violation.
Oklahoma City Police Officer Holtzclaw informed her that she had been swerving, which she denied. He then ordered her to perform oral sex.
“I tried to perform oral sex,” Ligon told CNN. “And trying to talk, I kept saying, ‘Sir, please don’t make me do this.’ I said, ‘Are you gonna shoot me?’ He said, ‘I promise I am not. ‘ I didn’t believe him. I kept seeing his gun while he was making me do this right there on the street. I was sitting in the passenger side of the car and he was standing there. It was so horrifying. It was unreal. I cried and cried.”
When Holtzclaw finally allowed Ligon to go, she went to the police, which the former cop’s other victims had been too afraid to do. It was her report that set off an investigation that would see Holtzclaw fired from the Oklahoma City police, charged with multiple counts of rape, and ultimately convicted and sentenced to 263 years in jail.
“Your offenses committed against women in our community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency,” wrote Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty in Holtzclaw’s termination letter, according to local news outlet KFOR.
After the 263-year sentence came down, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said that Holtzclaw was never a “true law enforcement officer.”
“I think people need to realize that this is not a law-enforcement officer that committed these crimes. 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 those citizens rather than victimize them.”
According to court documents obtained by NBC News, Holtzclaw’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial one day before the sentencing hearing was set to occur. They alleged that Holtzclaw didn’t receive a fair trial, and that “the government made deliberate discovery violations and misrepresentations, undermining confidence in the verdict.”
Although Holtzclaw was denied a request for an appeal bond, his lawyers say that they will continue to push for an appeal, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“It is what it is,” Defense attorney Scott Adams told the Chicago Tribune. “It wasn’t a surprise.”
Due to the way that the former Oklahoma City cop’s sentence was structured, it is unlikely he will ever see parole without an appeal or retrial.
[Photo by AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki]