Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney and president of the National Bar Association, called an ex-Oklahoma City officer’s sentencing a rare opportunity to get full justice for his clients — who are poor, Black, and female — during an exclusive interview with NewsOne.
Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced Thursday to 263 consecutive years in prison after he was found guilty last month on 18 of 36 charges, including rape and sexual battery while on duty.
It is widely apparent that he selected victims who were poor and had police records, believing they wouldn’t file charges against him. He also thought the women lacked credibility and no one would believe their allegations. But he was wrong.
Civil rights attorneys Crump, Damario Solomon-Simmons, and Melvin Hall began representing the women in a civil suit against the city after attending the criminal trial last month, where they noticed that everyone but the victims were White, including the jury. The team represents seven of the ex-officer’s victims.
“I am so excited about the outcome of this case,” Crump told NewsOne in an interview after the sentencing. “It was a real opportunity for us to get full justice. Oftentimes, when Blacks file complaints against the police, we get a civil settlement. In this case, we will get both criminal and civil justice.”
Crump called it a landmark case, but says it barely skims the surface of addressing “400 years of racial and sexual violence against Black women.”
Solomon-Simmons, who also spoke to NewsOne, agreed.
“It was a victory for not only our clients, but Black women nationwide, and our ancestors who were violated,” Solomon-Simmons said. “Well, this time the system lost. Holtzclaw was found guilty and punished for his crimes.”
Before the sentencing, Solomon-Simmons told NewsOne that he fully expected Holtzclaw, 29, to spend the rest of his life in prison.
“I believe that Holtzclaw will spend the rest of his life in prison,” he said. “Holtzclaw’s reign of terror was one of the most heinous abuses of power in the history of this nation. Holtzclaw must receive the maximum sentence allowed by law to validate his victims’ suffering, and to show the world, including others in positions of power, that abusing said power will have major consequences.”