One of the women assaulted by former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw said she feared for her life when he pulled her over last year and 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,” Jannie Ligons told reporters at a news conference Friday. “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,” said Ligons, a grandmother whose daughters stood beside her.
Holtzclaw told her he wasn’t going to shoot her, but he made her perform oral sodomy in June 2014, Ligons said.
“All I can say is I was a victim, I was traumatized, I went to therapy, I had a stroke behind this,” she said.
“I was innocent, and he just picked the wrong lady to stop that night,” she added.
Ligons later went to police and media outlets with the first complaint against Holtzclaw, she said. Investigators later found a total of 13 alleged victims, all African-American.
She was also one of two victims who addressed the media a day after a jury found Holtzclaw guilty of 18 of the 36 charges he faced, including four counts of rape in the first degree and four counts of forced oral sodomy.
Ligons has a pending federal civil lawsuit against Holtzclaw and the city of Oklahoma City, filed on behalf of several victims. She accused Holtzclaw of sexual assault and violating her state constitutional rights, and accused the city of negligence.
Raped while handcuffed to bed
Shandegreon “Sade” Hill told reporters that Holtzclaw pulled her over in December 2013, and she was later taken to a hospital on the other side of town. Once there, Holtzclaw raped her while she was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
“No nurses, nobody came to check on me,” Hill said. “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,” Hill added, with her parents beside her.
Hill has filed a state civil lawsuit against Holtzclaw and Oklahoma City. She came forward as a victim after reading a news item about Holtzclaw on Facebook last year, she said.
“Where is the national outcry for their justice?”
The jury deliberated for more than 40 hours before reaching its verdict late Thursday.
For about six months, 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 Thursday, his 29th birthday, Holtzclaw rocked back and forth in his chair, sobbing, as the judge read out the verdict.
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. Martin, a black teenager, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Florida. Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges in 2013. Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
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 justice remains to be seen until Holtzclaw’s sentencing in January and added that “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.”
Holtzclaw was a former star linebacker on the Eastern Michigan University football team with a degree in criminal justice.
His 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.
He was fired from the force in January after an internal investigation.
“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,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty wrote in the termination letter, according to CNN affiliate KFOR.
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.
17-year-old raped on mother’s porch
Thirteen women accusing him of sexual assault testified in the trial.
“I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I’m a black female,” one accuser said in court, according to The Oklahoman newspaper. Another said Holtzclaw told her would get rid of a drug charge against her if she cooperated with him.
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 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.
Prater, the district attorney, said that 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.
Police department: ‘Justice was served’
Holtzclaw, whose father is a police lieutenant on another force, waived his right to testify.
The Oklahoma City Police Department welcomed the verdict against its former employee.
“We are satisfied with the jury’s decision and firmly believe justice was served,” it said.
Some women gathered outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse celebrated Holtzclaw’s conviction by mockingly singing “Happy Birthday,” KFOR reported.
But others, including one of the victims’ mothers, said they were waiting for the formal sentencing before deciding whether justice had been done.