BLACK VOICES
12/11/2015 02:47 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2015

Victims Of Ex-Oklahoma Cop Convicted Of Serial Rape Speak Out

"All I could think was, he was going to shoot me, he was going to kill me."

The day after former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found
guilty of rape and a slew of sexual assault charges, two of his victims spoke out publicly.

"He just picked the wrong lady to stop that night," said Jannie Ligons, the victim who triggered the investigation into Holtzclaw after she reported him.

Ligons, who said she still lives with the trauma of the assault every day, described being pulled over by Holtzclaw and being forced to perform oral sodomy.

"All I could think was, he was going to shoot me, he was going to kill me," Ligons said. "Only thing I could see was my life flash before my eyes, and the gun in the holster on his right side."

After she reported the assault to the police, an investigation was launched -- uncovering 12 other black women who said they too were victimized by Holtzclaw while he was on duty.

On Wednesday night, after four days of deliberation, an all-white jury found Holtzclaw guilty of 18 out of 36 counts of sexual assault. He was ultimately convicted of counts associated with eight of the women, including four first-degree rape charges. He audibly sobbed as the verdict was read. It was his 29th birthday. 

Another victim, Sharday Hill, who was sexually assaulted while handcuffed to a hospital bed, said she was speechless and scared during the attack. "I felt like I was in survival mode so I had to do what he was making me do," she said. 

Daniel Holtzclaw, right, cries as the verdicts are read in his trial.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Daniel Holtzclaw, right, cries as the verdicts are read in his trial.

Prosecutors argued that Holtzclaw purposely preyed on poor black women, many of whom had criminal records or drug addictions, because he knew they would be unlikely to report the assaults. 

"It wasn't coincidence who he chose to violate, it was methodical and it was deliberate," said Benjamin Crump, a national civil rights attorney who stood side by side with victims and their families as they spoke to the press. "Some might not consider them model citizens, but they were citizens. They were Americans, and their lives mattered." 

He added that after excessive force, the No. 1 complaint against police officers by minorities is sexual harassment. 

"This is not just happening in Oklahoma City," Crump said.  

Grace Franklin, activist and co-founder of OKC Artists For Justice, who has been organizing support for the victims, said there is a tendency for people not to believe black women and disenfranchised women. 

"We are pleased with the 18 counts that we received; we are not pleased with the 18 that we didn't," she said. "There were five women who did not receive justice -- that is a problem."

Sentencing is scheduled for next month.

The jury recommended a total of 263 years of prison time, but how long Holtzclaw serves will depend on if his sentences are served concurrently or consecutively.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of one of Holtzclaw's victims. It is Ligons, not Logins.

Melissa Jeltsen covers domestic violence and other issues related to women's health, safety and security. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow her on Twitter.

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