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20/20 What The Dash Cam Never Saw
a_baron21 June 2016
On December 10, 2015, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted of 18 sex offences against women in his bailiwick. He was subsequently sentenced formally to a mammoth 263 years in prison. This forty minute documentary presents both sides of the story, as far as there are two sides.

The facts of the case have been minutely documented, but Holtzclaw's downfall was a complaint by Jannie Ligons that an unidentified police officer had stopped her and forced her to perform oral sex on him. This prompted an intense investigation which resulted in his being charged with offences against her and another twelve women. That looks damning, can all these women be mistaken or lying? Anyone who knows how police trawls operate will realise that the quality of the evidence is far more impressive than mere numbers, and that was the position the defense took. Not mentioned here is that one woman had made a proved false allegation against Holtzclaw. Shaneice Barksdale contacted the police in August 2014. When her lies were shown to be just that, she said she had been trying to "help" the prosecution case. Most of his other accusers had similar credibility problems: prostitutes, drug addicts, liars...

Jannie Ligons had no such problems, a grandmother, businesswoman, driving her own car, and although it is not clear if she had ever crossed paths with the police before, she had no felony convictions. From prison, Holtzclaw attempted to impeach her testimony; the time to do that was in court, but his lawyers would not allow him to take the stand, for obvious reasons. It soon became clear though that Jannie Ligons was not the only credible accuser; there was the little matter of the female DNA inside his trousers which his lawyers were unable to explain away, but probably most damning apart from the Ligons testimony was his own actions. Did he really friend one of his victims on Facebook, and did he really flaunt proper police procedures so frequently without sinister intent?

Even so, the juror interviewed said some of them were prepared to acquit him of all charges. There was though just too much for even an unreasonable doubt, and their convicting him of 18 of 36 charges was probably about right, that is assuming there are no other victims who have not come forward.

In the UK, police officers have been convicted of raping vulnerable women, but nothing on this scale could have happened here. The reason he got away with it for so long was all his victims were black, and they all knew that in some US states a police officer can shoot a suspect dead with almost total impunity. Although this rarely happens to black women, men both black and white have been slaughtered in droves over the years. At the time of writing, over 500 (five hundred) people have been killed by US police this year. While doubtless some of those killings were justified, one can understand why before Jannie Ligons only one of Holtzclaw's victims reported a sexual assault. There can be no doubt either that the musclebound psychopath himself understood this perfectly well, which is why he deserves every day of those 263 years.
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