The trial of a former Oklahoma City police officer charged in the alleged rape of 13 Black women began on November 2. Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, is on trial for the sexual assault of these women, including rape, sexual battery, burglary, and forced oral sodomy, in a low-income neighborhood located in northeast section of the city. As The Source magazine reports, Holtzclaw is accused of victimizing the women, ages 17 to 57, over a 7-month span. The ex-cop faces life in prison if convicted of the 36 charges.
The jury of 8 men and 4 women—all white in a city that is 40 percent Black and Brown—have deliberated since Monday evening, following closing arguments in the case. Three Black men were removed from the jury panel. The obvious racial disparities in this trial, and that the victims are suspected of drug use and prostitution, are an issue, increasing the possibility of a not guilty verdict. Holtzclaw’s lawyer, who portrayed his client as a model officer, placed the women on trial, in effect, by questioning their integrity and making them an issue. As Jezebel reported, during closing arguments, the defense suggested the women were less “perfect victims” than “perfect accusers,” and that they and other witnesses “don’t care about the truth.” The prosecution says that the ex-officer intimated the women, who say they met him while he was on duty, into not reporting the crimes.
As of Wednesday evening, the jury had deliberated a total of 34 hours, including 13 on Wednesday. According ABC News, Judge Timothy Henderson and lead prosecutor Gayland Gieger, said these are the longest jury deliberations they have experienced.
As Jessica Testa of BuzzFeed reported, all 13 women testified in court, though this was not their first time telling the stories. Last November, the women spoke out during a two-day preliminary hearing, of which the testimonies were not available until now.
“The stories are consistent, from the questions Holtzclaw initially asked them, to the way he exposed himself through the fly of his police uniform, to the remote locations he took some of them to,” Testa wrote. “GPS data from Holtzclaw’s car and various phone records presented in court verify many of the geographical and timeline-related details.”
For the first time, Daniel Holtzclaw’s alleged victims’ stories in one place, in succession, in their own words: https://t.co/QhrHjGzJJP
— jessica testa (@jtes) December 9, 2015
“I didn’t think that no one would believe me,” said one victim known as S.H.
The woman recounts being in a hospital bed, with one arm handcuffed to her bed, and Holtzclaw is there, groping her chest, exposing himself and forcing her into oral sodomy.
“I just really can’t believe it because it’s the police,” she said. “And I thought stuff like that only just really happened on movies. I couldn’t believe what was going on was really going on.”
Another woman, S.B., was walking when Holtzclaw stopped her and asked if she had anything on her, such as drugs or weapons. He placed her in the back seat of the police car and ran her name for outstanding warrants, of which she had none. Then according to S.B. he told her, “Okay, I’m going to take you home,” after which point he took her to a location known as Dead Man’s Curve. He then allegedly gave S.B. two choices, oral sodomy and rape or jail. Then, he proceeded to rape her.
A young woman known as A. was only 17 when the defendant allegedly raped her on her mother’s porch one night. Holtzclaw asked if she had any drugs on her, then searched her, allegedly groped A. underneath her clothes, and inserted his fingers into her genitals. He then allegedly unzipped his pants and raped her, telling her, “You got warrants. I don’t want to have to take you to jail. I don’t want to make this any harder than it has to be.”
The jury was set to resume their deliberations on Thursday morning. As the public awaits their verdict, the 6-foot-1, 260-pound former college football player celebrates his 29th birthday. And Black women and girls still look for justice in a society that criminalizes and objectifies them, questions their veracity, and blames them for the victimization visited upon them.