The trial of Daniel Holtzclaw, the former Oklahoma City police officer charged with sexually assaulting and raping 13 black women, began on Monday. Jury selection for this case ended on Tuesday, settling on eight men and four women—all of whom are white.
Holtzclaw allegedly made a routine of targeting poor, vulnerable black women with checkered pasts, then telling them they would either have to suffer his sexual abuse or risk jail time.
In June 2014, Holtzclaw applied his routine to an older black woman who had been playing dominoes in a neighborhood he patrolled, according to BuzzFeed. When he accused the woman of drinking and driving and asked her to step out of her car, she said she wasn’t drinking but complied anyway. He then made her sit on the curb, expose her breasts and forced his penis into her mouth. Once she got home to her own neighborhood, she reported the incident to her local precinct. She also went to the hospital for a sexual assault medical forensic examination.
In August of 2014, Holtzclaw was arrested, then released on bail and kept under house arrest—the terms of which he then violated—while his family ran a “Justice for Daniel Holtzclaw” Facebook page. He was fired in January 2015, as more women kept coming forward; the accusations against him now come from 13 women and add up to 36 charges, including first-degree rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, stalking, and burglary.
In his opening statement in court this week, according to BuzzFeed, Holtzclaw’s defense attorney Scott Adams made it clear that he’d be focusing his strategy on the reputations and “street smarts—street smarts like you can’t imagine” of the female victims. He also referred to Holtzclaw as an “all American good guy.”
Holtzclaw is accused of preying on more than a dozen women in northeast Oklahoma City, ages 17 to 58, in a community he was paid to protect and serve. It’s impossible to ignore the potential ramifications of the fact that the jury deciding Holtzclaw’s guilt or innocence is all white and his alleged victims are all black.
Hoytzclaw faces a possible sentence of life in prison. His trial is expected to continue through November.
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Image via AP.