Betrayed by the Law: Oklahoma City cop convicted of sexually assaulting multiple women while on duty
02/18/2016 4:52 pm PST
A young Oklahoma City police officer named Daniel Holtzclaw, a one-time star football player in high school and college, had been on the force for three years.
One woman's brave report would unravel a twisted tale of a crooked cop on the make, preying on victims too afraid of the police to fight back. The sordid details of how Holtzclaw pulled over Jannie Ligons, 59, and allegedly sexually assaulted her, landed on the desk of Detective Kim Davis.
Using the Oklahoma City Police Department's sophisticated GPS monitoring system, police determined it was Officer Holtzclaw who had pulled over Ligons that night.
The next day, he was pulled in for questioning. In the videotaped interrogation obtained by Crime Watch Daily, Holtzclaw confirms he made the stop, but denies anything and everything else.
Holtzclaw agrees to take a DNA swab. Detectives keep pressing their fellow cop giving him every possible chance to come clean. Before it's over, he willingly strips down and surrenders his uniform as evidence. It's the last time he'll ever wear it again.
When investigators started reviewing all of Holtzclaw's patrol records, and knocking on doors in the neighborhoods where he worked, they found many other victims, including 24-year-old Sharday Hill. Hill says Holtzclaw approached her when she was high and handcuffed to a hospital bed after an arrest, and sexually assaulted her.
Officer Holtzclaw's reign of terror was legendary on these streets of northeast Oklahoma City long before the scandal made front-page headlines.
For almost seven months, his sickening sexual attacks on the city's most vulnerable women had gone completely unreported.
His victims were mostly poor black women with troubled pasts who didn't trust the cops. Jannie Ligons was different. She had the courage to come forward because she didn't have a criminal record.
"The victims didn't come forward because they didn't think we'd believe them," said Oklahoma City Police Investigator Kim Davis. "They all said 'Who am I gonna call, the police on the police?'"
"He was escalating and escalating in his numbers," said Davis. "His last day he assaulted three women. He did it three times, three different women in one shift, and they were all horrible sexual assaults. They were beyond fondling."
Once Ligons reported her incident, 12 other women came forward, accusing Holtzclaw of serial rape.
The Oklahoma City Police Department fired the disgraced officer and then slapped the cuffs on him.
Holtzclaw was charged with 36 counts of first-degree rape and sexual battery, along with other charges for forcible oral sodomy and indecent exposure.
He was soon booked into the county jail like a common criminal. But justice wasn't complete until he'd face his accusers in court.
The once-brazen cop, whose badge and gun had been stripped, would have to answer to his victims and a jury of his peers as the case went to trial.
Prosecutors put all 13 of the victims on the witness stand. The women ranged in age from 17 to 59.
Through his attorneys, Holtzclaw maintained his innocence, but the ex-cop refused to take the stand in his own defense. The only time jurors heard the defendant's voice is when prosecutors showed them the police interrogation video.
But 13 women repeating similar tales of being pulled over and sexually abused was an overwhelming courtroom story.
The jury deliberated for 45 hours. The verdict was unanimous: Guilty on 18 of the 36 counts.
Holtzclaw faced a whopping amount of time after his conviction due to strict sentencing guidelines on rape charges. He was looking at far more than a lifetime behind bars.