A billboard questioning if convicted former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw is truly guilty of raping 13 women has been taken down by Tyler Media, the company that owns the billboard.
Holtzclaw expressed disappointment in an exclusive interview with Oklahoma’s NewsChannel 4 on Nov. 22.
“I’m aware that the billboard has come down and I’m a little disheartened,” Holtzclaw told reporters. “But I’m encouraged by the ongoing supporters who believe in my innocence.”
Atlanta Black Star previously reported that Holtzclaw was convicted for using his position as a police officer to coerce and rape 13 Black women while on duty. The former officer and college football player was sentenced to 263 years in prison in January after being convicted on 18 of 36 counts, including first-degree rape and forced oral sodomy.
His victims ranged in age from 17 to 57 and all of them were women considered to be on the fringes of society. All had had run-ins with the law prior to encountering Holtzclaw. Court testimonies and documents stated that he took advantage of the women because he didn’t think anyone would believe their accusations against him.
In the news clip, Holtzclaw remained steadfast, claiming that he was innocent and falsely convicted.
Activists and supporters of the victims believe the billboard is an act of disrespect and shows a blatant disregard for their feelings.
“I couldn’t believe that someone would have the gall to put that on this side of the community, on the northeast side of Oklahoma City at I-44 and Kelley,” Grace Franklin of OKC Artists for Justice said in disbelief. “It was so disturbing and such a slap in the face to those survivors.”
But Brian Bates, a member of Holtzclaw’s defense team, said the billboard had no bearing on the case.
“That billboard being up wasn’t going to do anything to prove Daniel was guilty or innocent. The show it’s promoting will help educate an awful lot of people of the facts that have yet to come out until now,” Bates explained.
From prison, Holtzclaw told reporters that he is more concerned with his court appeal than the billboard being removed. There is new evidence claiming that another man’s DNA was on Holtzclaw’s pants.
“I’m very confident in my appellate lawyers, I’m confident in my team and the support that I have,” Holtzclaw said. “I’m confident that all the discovery we have found throughout the trial, I’m pretty positive I’m going to get a retrial,”
Since the billboard backlash, CRTV, the media outlet that is producing the series on the ex-cop, has released a statement: “CRTV supports free speech. We are disappointed that Tyler Media caved in to pressure to take down the billboard.”