In Holtzclaw's Defense. what I think actually happened

(originally posted 6/3/2016 by Brian Bates. Updated 11/23/2106) - The number one question I get asked - as someone that is as close to this case and all of the discovery materials as the prosecutors and investigators - is, "So, if you are convinced that Daniel Holtzclaw is innocent, then what do you think really happened?"

My answer is straight forward, yet very complex as I take apart each and every accuser's allegations in search for the truth.

In short, I truly believe that Daniel Holtzclaw was a well-meaning police officer who at the same time made lots of enemies with his very physical and no-nonsense demeanor. 

Holtzclaw's cocky attitude, massive physique, and fearless approach to law enforcement served himself and the public well for the short time he was a police officer. That is, up until the point he crossed paths with Jannie Ligons - an accuser looking to get even, while at the same time getting a big payout and all with the support, encouragement and enabling of two incompetent sex crimes detectives - Kim Davis and Rocky Gregory.

I don't make that assertion lightly. I also don't place Holtzclaw's guilty verdict solely at the hands of accuser Ligons and Detectives Davis and Gregory. There were 20 other accusers (yes, 21 in all, not just the 13 that made it to trial), a social climate that was highly critical of the perceived injustices perpetrated elsewhere by police officers against minority members of the public, a local police chief that was all too eager to get in front of these allegations, and so much more.

Am I talking conspiracy theories?  No. I'm talking bias, unprofessionalism, greed and a momentum that once started, there was no pulling it back.

Holtzclaw was a member of the Springlake division of the Oklahoma City Police Department. Holtzclaw worked the overnight shift patrolling one of the most violent and crime ridden areas of the city. And, he did it without a partner and without the aid of the unblinking eye of a patrol car dash cam or body cam.

Its no secret that the northeast side harbors its unfair share of criminality and the crime of choice revolves around drugs.

Daniel Holtzclaw knew three unalienable truths about the addicts he often encountered while fulfilling his obligation to protect and serve the citizens of Northeast Oklahoma City... They were the keepers of all the information about criminal activity in the area, they always had their drugs and paraphernalia nearby and they always lied.

Holtzclaw spent his high school and college years as a stand out - not only physically, but also on the football field. He learned the value of teamwork but also knew that success was often achieved by one's own individual perseverance. Those attributes were recognized, encouraged and transformed. First when Holtzclaw was accepted into the Oklahoma City Police Dept. and again not long after he completed his probationary period and was assigned to the Gang Enforcement Unit.

Just 10-days after Holtzclaw completed his probationary period he, along with other officers, were involved in a use of force incident that resulted in the death of 38-year-old suspect Clifton Armstrong - whom Holtzclaw was trying to detain. This was just one of at least 19 use of force incidents investigated by police administrators against Holtzclaw - All of which cleared Holtzclaw of any wrong doing, but solidified the reality that Holtzclaw was a physically aggressive police officer.

In response to Holtzclaw's ability to handle himself with combative suspects, Holtzclaw was transferred to the OCPD Gang Enforcement Unit just nine-days after the Armstrong incident - and less than a month after completing his probationary period within the police department.

The Gang Unit has a well deserved reputation of trampling the rights of others in their testosterone driven desire to round-up anyone they perceive as having gang affiliation, aka 'criminals.' Earlier this year, a federal judge had this to say about Det. Keith Medley, previously with the OKC Police Dept.'s gang unit, after it was revealed Medley intentionally lied to get a search warrant... "[Det. Medley's] statements [to the court] were made with reckless disregard for the truth." Medley faced no criminal charges for his actions. You can read more about that incident here.

Surrounded by such brazen disregard for the law and the rights of others, this is the environment Holtzclaw received his training and mentoring under. Despite such negative influences, Holtzclaw remained an officer that acted within the law, if not always within policy. Unfortunately he also developed an air of self-confidence that left him open to unsubstantiated allegations.

Holtzclaw not only gave little pause to stopping individuals he profiled as likely criminals, he unapologetically made use of a procedure referred to by law enforcement as the 'clasp and shake' when confronting female suspects. 

The clasp and shake is a procedure where a female suspect is asked to clasp her bra with one or both hands (over her shirt), pull it forward, away from her breasts, and shake. The idea being to maintain the individual's modesty while revealing any drugs, paraphernalia or weapons that might be hidden in areas male officers are forbidden from searching.

While the clasp and shake may seem extreme and belittling to those who have never spent much time in drug infested communities - it's a legal procedure that often has the intended result.

That said, it most assuredly leaves some female detainees upset and even infuriated that they are treated like a common street thug.

I believe this is what happened during the Ligons traffic stop and to various extents during contact Holtzclaw had with some of his other accusers.

OKC Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw and accuser Jannie Ligons.

Nobody denies that Ligons was stopped by Holtzclaw. What I believe happened that night was that Holtzclaw was confident in his authority to pull Ligons over - after seeing her car swerve, during a time known for the presence of driver's driving under the influence. Due to the lack of street lights and the illegally dark tint on Ligons' vehicle, Holtzclaw had no way of knowing a black female was driving and alone in those early morning hours. Though Ligons denies she was swerving, Holtzclaw's claims are bolstered by the fact that Ligons later admitted to investigators that she had spent the evening smoking dope and taking over-the-counter sleep inducing medication.

Based on Ligons' first impression (she appears under the influence every time you see her on the news), and the fact she's in a high crime area late at night without a driver's license - Holtzclaw profiles her as a criminal drug user.

Because Holtzclaw believes Ligons uses drugs (if not at that moment then at least in her daily life) he feels the need to question her further. And, because he knows drug users usually have the evidence of their drug use on them, but most often lie about it - Holtzclaw instructs Ligons to perform the clasp and shake. Holtzclaw also most likely comments on her demeanor (slurred speech, barely open eyes, etc.). Finding nothing to prove his suspicions during the clasp and shake, Holtzclaw instructs Ligons to roll the waist of her pants down. As noted at trial, while potentially humiliating, this is a lawful practice when used to try and reveal drugs, drug paraphernalia or weapons.

Regardless, lawful and acceptable by the public don't always go hand-in-hand. It is my opinion that Ligons took particular exception with how she was treated and expressed that outrage when she eventually made it home - to the tiny section 8 apartment that belonged to her adult daughter. Ligons, having been evicted from her previous residence, was now living in her daughter's apartment with her boyfriend of many years, her daughter's felon boyfriend and her daughter's two children. To say Ligons was living a non-traditional 'grandmother' lifestyle and in desperate need for cash is an understatement.

It is my opinion that the talk in Ligons' apartment went from "how dare that cop embarrass and treat me like some drug addict on the side of the road" to discussions of filing a police report, to getting even and cashing-in by simply tweaking the truth by adding a sexual assault claim - because, "he had it coming for the way he treated me."

That may sound far fetched to some, but Det. Kim Davis has acknowledged publicly that they get approximately one complaint a month accusing an officer of a sexual assault and they are overwhelmingly false complaints. In fact, Det. Davis credits the two motivators of such complaints as "being mad about an arrest or ticket" or "getting even with an overly aggressive cop." 

I'd argue Holtzclaw was a textbook overly aggressive cop who had no idea his legal, though questionable, tactics would harbor such ill-will with those he had encountered.

Once Ligons was willing to make her false assertions on the record, the rest became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Det. Davis ignored her own training and experience. Det. Davis also ignored the fact that only Holtzclaw's version of events that night matched the forensic evidence. Det. Davis, with the help of Det. Gregory and OCPD Lt. Timothy Muzny created a narrative out of thin air, wherein Holtzclaw is a serial sexual predator of black women on the northeast side - and all within 48-hours of Ligons' initial complaint.

Det. Rocky Gregory, Daniel Holtzclaw and Det. Kim Davis.

So biased by their own predetermined outcome, Detectives Davis and Gregory, along with Lt. Muzny, find no fault in the fact they only sought to interview black females with a history of drug abuse or prostitution - the so-called 'perfect victim' profile. I've said this once and I unapologetically say it again, these women are not the perfect victims, they are the perfect accusers. They have ill-will toward Holtzclaw, they have nothing to loose, their lifelong criminal behavior is now being re-imagined as victimization, they are getting on the good graces with investigators, and they often believe their false accusations are acceptable because they bolster the accusations of women they see as legitimate accusers. At the end of the day they are constantly being told by people around them they are doing the right thing and by doing so they are going to be rich. 

But, what of the other 12 accusers?

Of the 12 remaining accusers, only two came forward and revealed themselves to investigators on their own - accusers Terri Morris and Shardayreon Hill. Both of which Holtzclaw was later acquitted of all of their allegations at trial.

In fact, Holtzclaw was acquitted of the sexual assault allegations of three additional accusers - Carla Raines, Florene Mathis and Kala Lyles. 

That leaves only seven additional accusers - Tabitha Barnes, Rosetta Grate, Regina Copeland, Sherry Ellis, Syrita Bowen, Carla Johnson, and, then 17-year old, Adaira Gardner.

Barnes had a well documented beef with Holtzclaw. Holtzclaw had several times encountered Barnes at her residence because it was rumored to be a drug house. Holtzclaw had accused Barnes of selling drugs and had even run-off her registered sex offender boyfriend because he could not legally be in the home with Barnes' small children. Some of Holtzclaw's encounters outside of Barnes' home were witnessed by other officers who testified they never saw Holtzclaw act inappropriately. Barnes' allegation was mild compared to others. Barnes simply claimed that Holtzclaw had her expose her breasts - most likely her interpretation and exaggeration of being ordered to perform the 'clasp and shake.'

Grate was literally noted in police computers as "known to lie to authorities" and admitted during questioning that she was aware of the allegations against Holtzclaw from news reports prior to her sexual assault claims. In fact, all 12 accusers only claimed to be sexual assault victims of Holtzclaw after Ligons had gone on the news and made her allegations very public.

Copeland encountered Holtzclaw after he witnessed her driving under the influence - a condition supported by testimony of Copeland's own family members. Copeland claimed that Holtzclaw allowed her to drive her own car (while drunk) to a nearby family member's home. Copeland claims she was then ordered to get into Holtzclaw's patrol car and that after he made three right turns he stopped, removed her from the patrol car and raped her. Problem is, as in several of the cases, Holtzclaw's patrol car GPS/AVL does not support Copeland's version of events. In fact, Holtzclaw's patrol car GPS/AVL proves he never drove down Copeland's street and never made the three rights turns as she claimed.  

Holtzclaw has always maintained that he stopped Copeland, allowed her to leave her car and that he drove her to her nearby relative's home. Holtzclaw says Copeland was adamant that he not pull up in front of their house in his patrol car. Holtzclaw said he stopped at the end of Copeland's street and allowed her to exit his patrol car and walk to the relative's home, only two houses down. Once Copeland disappeared on the porch, Holtzclaw claims he drove away. This version of events (and not Copeland's) is 100% supported by Holtzclaw's patrol car GPS/AVL.

Holtzclaw received the most number of years in prison - 62 - from accuser Sherry Ellis' claims. You will recall that Ellis is the accuser who claimed her attacker was a short black man that she knew well - because he patrolled her area often. Ellis also claimed that she was taken to an abandoned school yard, removed from Holtzclaw's patrol car, bent over and raped for 10 minutes. 

Holtzclaw is 6' 2" tall and pale in complexion. Furthermore, Holtzclaw's patrol car GPS/AVL clearly shows that while he did drive past the abandoned school/park, he never drove slower than 2 MPH, never stopped and was only in the area long enough to pass by.

Bowen is one of the last accusers to be identified and only makes allegations of sexual assault against Holtzclaw after being approached by investigators and only after the allegations against Holtzclaw are widely known to the public. Bowen, as with all the accuser's allegations, is not supported by a single witness or piece of direct evidence.

Johnson openly admitted in court that investigators came to her home and claimed that they had information that she had been sexually assaulted by an Oklahoma City police officer. While this claim on their part was false, it most assuredly gave Johnson the confidence needed to make a false allegation against Holtzclaw. Johnson, like every accuser before her, simply took a very real situation - an encounter with Holtzclaw - and inserted a fictitious sexual assault allegation.

This leaves us with Gardner - the infamous juvenile whose DNA was found on the fly of Holtzclaw's pants.

The day of Holtzclaw and Gardner's interactions is well documented. Holtzclaw first runs into Gardner with a male small-time pimp and another female. Holtzclaw runs into Gardner again, several hours later, about two blocks from her home.

When Gardner's mother is first interviewed by investigators, she recalls the day her daughter encountered Holtzclaw. Gardner's mother says that her daughter immediately told her that she "met a hot cop." Not exactly the words you'd expect to hear from a girl who later claims she was actually bent over and raped by that same cop only an hour or so before.

Gardner however never made the rape allegation until after she admitted to looking the Holtzclaw up online (after detectives called looking for her) and reading that he was accused of sexually assaulting women in her area.

As for the incriminating DNA, belonging to Gardner and found on the fly of Holtzclaw's uniform pants?

The prosecution's own expert, who found the DNA, testified that it was skin cells and that they have no way of knowing from what part of Gardner they came from and how they got onto Holtzclaw's uniform.

The expert also testified that they never bothered to try and determine the original of the skin cells - through common tests that seek the presence of saliva, blood, semen or vaginal secretions. 

Furthermore, the prosecution's DNA expert agreed that the skin cells could have simply been the result of secondary transfer and could have gotten on Holtzclaw's hands when he patted Gardner down and went through her purse. The DNA could then have been transferred to his pants while adjusting himself, tucking his shirt in, or using the restroom.

This theory is supported by the fact that a yet to be identified male's DNA was also found in the same spot on Holtzlcaw's uniform pants. This fact was only realized after trial, was never presented to the jury and is an important aspect of Holtzclaw's appeal.

Twelve of the 13 accusers who faced Holtzclaw in court have all filed civil lawsuits and seek payouts in the millions of dollars.

Yet, detectives Davis and Gregory continue to forward their opinion, "the accusers did not have any motive to lie." With the benefit of hindsight, has already shown where 13 Holtzclaw accusers have been proven to be liars.

While the detectives and prosecutors continue to hang their hats on the word of lifelong felons with allegations that are not supported by the evidence, I place the foundation of my belief that Daniel Holtzclaw is innocent on these facts....

13 Alleged Victims, 36 Alleged Crimes, and 17 Alleged Crime Scenes - Not a single witness, not a single piece of direct evidence and not a single substantiated motive on Holtzclaw's part to have committed a single alleged offense.