Weeks after ex-Oklahoma City officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years for raping and assaulting Black women while on the job, the city that employed him now faces a civil suit for its role in his crimes.
Tulsa World reports that seven women have filed a civil rights suit against Oklahoma City for not only falling down on the job of monitoring Holtzclaw, but allegedly inadequately investigating a 2013 complaint that could have potentially prevented his subsequent crimes. According to the local Fox affiliate, the suit also names the following as defendants: Holtzclaw, Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) chief Bill Citty, OCPD officer Brian Bennett (Holtzclaw’s supervisor) and detective OCPD Rocky Gregory.
The suit was originally filed on February 25, and was amended on Friday (March 4) to include two more women. All seven plaintiffs were part of the criminal case; Holtzclaw was convicted on charges for four of them and acquitted on charges for the other three.
The suit cites the case of a woman who reported that Holtzclaw slammed her against a wall and pressed his genitals against her in November 2013—seven months before he assaulted Jannie Ligons, the women whose complaint resulted in his eventual arrest. Oklahoma City police spokesman Paco Balderrama maintains that the complaint did not include information about “sexual misconduct.” But the suit says it was covered up.
“I feel betrayed by the system,” Ligons told NewsOne. “This all could have been prevented if they had followed up on the earlier complaint.”
Several of the women who survived attacks spoke at a press conference yesterday (March 7):
The suit also charges that the department missed another opportunity to remove Holtzclaw from duty in May 2013, when he was involved in the police custody death of Clifton Armstrong, a Black man.