Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City ex-cop who was convicted last week of raping 13 women, is on suicide watch at an Oklahoma City Jail, KFOR (Oklahoma City) is reporting. Holtzclaw will have a corrections officer stationed outside of his cell 24 hours per day until further notice.
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On Thursday of last week, the 29-year-old Holtzclaw was found guilty of 18 rape charges and acquitted of 18 others, according to The Associated Press. The jury recommended that he be given the maximum sentence of 263 years, meaning Holtzclaw will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
During his career with the Oklahoma City Police Department, Holtzclaw preyed on women in the community he served – low-income, vulnerable, minority women, said prosecutors during his trial. Specifically, prosecutors said, Holtzclaw targeted juveniles, drug addicts, and women already in police custody.
The first of Holtzclaw’s victims to come forward with accusations of rape against him was a grandmother. Holtzclaw stopped Jannie Ligons for no apparent reason, according to CNN, then forced her to perform a sex act on him.
“In my mind, all I could think of was he was going to shoot me, he was going to kill me. I kept begging, ‘Sir, don’t make me do this, don’t make me do this, sir. Please. You’re going to shoot me.’ All I could see was my life flashing before my eyes and the holster on his right side.”
After Ligons took her allegations against Holtzclaw to the media and to the Oklahoma City police, other victims – all African-American – began coming forward.
Another victim, Shandegreon “Sade” Hill, said Holtzclaw pulled her over in December 2013, before taking her to a hospital. There, handcuffed to a bed, Holtzclaw raped her.
“No nurses, nobody came to check on me. Me being in the room with the police, not expecting to get violated the way I did, the way I was done, I just couldn’t even believe it. I was speechless. I was scared. I felt like I was in survivor mode, so I had to do what he was making me do.”
The youngest of Holtzclaw’s victims, a 17-year-old girl who has not been publicly identified, who testified that Holtzclaw pulled up beside her in his police car while she was walking home one night in June 2014. He then drove her to her family home, walked her up to the porch, and raped her.
Holtzclaw’s crimes represent a larger problem of police using their power to commit sexual violence against women and girls – a problem that extends beyond Oklahoma City. Looking at police misconduct data for the past six years, The Associated Press found at least 1,000 cases of officers losing their licenses because of sexual misconduct on the job – and that figure is likely just scratching the surface. Not all states have processes for banning criminal cops from continuing to get jobs in law enforcement.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater told reporters after Holtzclaw’s conviction that Holtzclaw was held accountable for his crimes despite attempts by Holtzclaw’s attorney, Scott Adams to game the jury. Adams had used juror challenges to ensure that an all-white jury tried his client; a plan that backfired, according to PRater.
“I don’t care what they look like, where they go to church, what god they worship, or how much money they make. We stand up for people in this community.”
After the verdict, a few victims and their advocates mockingly sang “Happy Birthday” to Holtzclaw – the verdict against him was read on his birthday.
Daniel Holtzclaw is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
[AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, Pool]