Presumption of Innocence? Not For Daniel Holtzclaw

08.06.2017 By @WinterwoodGrace

 

The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is supposed to be the foundation of our legal justice system in the United States. It’s a sound theory, given to ensure our constitutional rights. What happens when that presumption of innocence is only a theory, and not a practice? Meet Daniel Holtzclaw.

Daniel Holtzclaw was an Oklahoma City police officer in 2014.  A former football player, Daniel is built like like a concrete wall with feet. Standing at around 6’2” tall and heavily muscled, he would be an intimidating sight, if not for the still boyish face and relaxed air.  In 2014, Daniel believed in his job, the criminal justice system, and the basic premise that truth prevailed. Today, Daniel sits incarcerated, in an undisclosed location, for crimes he didn’t commit. Daniel was afforded no presumption of innocence at any point during the investigation. Before he had even been interviewed about his alleged crimes, detectives had already decided his guilt, and set a process in motion designed to uphold that belief, and only that belief. That process started a wave that pushed justice away, and replaced it with an investigation so fundamentally flawed that it carried all the way to the prosecution. That wave washed away Daniel’s innocence, and his freedom.

In the early morning hours of June 18, 2014 Daniel made a traffic stop that would forever change his life, and the lives of those close to him. That single traffic stop would ruin his career, while helping another detective achieve the pinnacle of supposed success. That traffic stop was the ripple that started the wave, the one that washed justice away in the pursuit of accolades. At a little after 2 a.m. Daniel was just off duty, and heading home, when Jannie Ligons swerved in front of his police car. Daniel, fearing that she was driving under the influence, initiated a traffic stop, while off duty, in the interest of protecting her and others. That’s what police are supposed to do, serve and protect.  The traffic stop, lasting a little less than 15 minutes, was unremarkable except for the allegation of sexual assault that resulted, roughly 2 hours later. Daniel admittedly made mistakes with this stop. He didn’t report the stop, he didn’t log back into his on-board computer to run Ligons for wants or warrants. He violated these procedures, put in place for officer safety. He freely admits to this. He wanted to ensure she was not driving under the influence, and he wanted to go home, in that order. Of these facts, there is no dispute. There is no evidence that supports the claims Jannie Ligons made to officers over an hour later.

Jannie Ligons arrived home around 2:45, and from that point, details become clouded. Ultimately, though, her story eventually gels into an initial report to officers that resulted in the case being assigned to sex crimes Detective Kim Davis at 4 a.m. What followed was a lax and appalling investigation designed to to nothing more than convict Daniel, first in the court of public opinion, followed by the trial court. In the 12 hours between Detective Davis being assigned to this complaint and interviewing Daniel, detectives had found surveillance video, and another victim claiming almost the exact same scenario. They had already processed Jannie Ligons car, made contact with Daniel’s superior officers, and set the wheels in motion to interview Daniel. It is painful to watch Daniel’s initial interview with Detectives  Kim Davis and Rocky Gregory. There is an appalling lack of professionalism from the detectives, as well as a glaring belief that Daniel was guilty, and nothing was going to change their minds on that.

Throughout the almost 2 hour interview, Daniel never wavered from his version of events. No matter how desperately the detectives tried to trip him up, his narrative never changed. The same cannot be said for Jannie Ligons’ version of events. Starting with what time she arrived home (somewhere between 2:42 and 3:00 in the morning, depending on which version you follow) throughout the claims of attempts to report the assault, and even the assault itself, her complaint flows, growing here, changing there, much like a mud puddle that is constantly being walked through. The only thing that is clear, is that there was in fact a traffic stop. During Daniel’s initial interview, Detective Davis expresses disbelief that an ordinary traffic stop could take 15 minutes, and more disbelief that Ligons would make up a story. She seemed to feel that Ligons had nothing to gain. One can certainly hope that she was only pretending to be that dense, in the mistaken belief that it would trip Daniel up. If she was not pretending, the glaring lack of investigative intelligence should scare every person she has ever had official contact with. Simply put, Jannie Ligons spent the evening with a male friend that was not her boyfriend. Many woman have lied to protect relationships with men other than their acknowledged partners. Added to the fact that Jannie Ligons has since filed as civil suit naming Daniel Holtzclaw and Oklahoma City as defendants. There is plenty of motivation to lie.

Likewise, Detective Rocky Gregory’s conduct is troubling at best. From joking about masturbation to asking Daniel if he’d like to see the surveillance videos that show the alleged assault, Detective Gregory was more concerned with trying to make a name for himself  than the actual facts and evidence presented. The video shows no evidence of assault, and in fact barely shows the traffic stop itself. It is certainly a far cry from the implication Gregory made to Daniel that it clearly showed Jannie Ligons’ breasts or Daniel’s penis. It never occurred to either detective to care that Daniel was innocent. There were no names to be made that way, no warm fuzzy feelings fostered amongst the community if they concerned themselves with Daniel’s innocence.

This is the start of a story that tore lives apart, cost a man his freedom, and epitomizes the need for reform in the criminal justice system. Most recently, it has been shown that DNA evidence in Daniel’s case was purposefully misrepresented by the prosecution. This DNA evidence was key to obtaining a conviction that resulted in a 263 year prison sentence for Daniel Holtzclaw. It highlights the need for harsher penalties for prosecutorial and police misconduct. Daniel’s story is one that needs to be heard, and understood. His story is not one that should be repeated due to a failing justice system that embraces conviction rates over justice. We hope you will follow along as Daniel and his family fight to overturn his conviction and clear his name. We hope you will add your voice to the outcry, and most sincerely, we hope you will not become another Daniel Holtzclaw.

To learn more about Daniel Holtzclaw’s case, follow along here on Be The Rain, as well as the following sites:

 

Holtzclaw Trial

Free Daniel Holtzclaw

Justice For Daniel Holtzclaw

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    Grace Winterwood

    Freelance Journalist

    Journalist at http://betherain.org/ Outspoken conservative hoping for a better life for my children and a new AC system by spring! Contact me at gwinterwood@bethereain.org and @winterwoodgrace on Twitter.

  • Show Comments (11)

  • Gregory A Blomberg

    If you really want to see how corrupt this trial was look into the secret hearings after the appeals court remanded it back to the original court. Sealed orders by the state, sealed rulings by the original judge and Daniel nor his attorney are allowed to know any of it.

  • Holly Blomberg

    I have followed Daienl’s case from day one! He was railroaded! Now an innocent man sits in jail for crimes he didn’t Commit! It has been a long time coming, pleased with light being shone on this case. Wait for the day he walks out a free man. Always fighting!

  • June Webb

    I was not sure of this situation when I saw the lady detective on tv in the first interview. She had already made up her mind that he was a guilty man. I am sure that he is not a short African American no matter how you look at him. Now all of these secret meetings and refusal to share with the news stations and his attorneys. I believe in my heart that they needed to prosecute a policeman and he got the short straw. And who in the heck gets over 200 years. Murders have gotten less time.

  • Carolyn

    This case not over. It is one of the worst instances of malicious prosecution I have ever seen.
    And when it finally is over and Daniel exonerated, he should sue EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. INVOLVED.

  • Cherie

    I am totally appalled. #FREEDANIELHOLTZCLAW

  • Robin Haney

    Prayers for a swift overturn in Daniel’s conviction! Justice for Daniel!

  • Ttg

    No wonder the fake news has an easy time proliferating these days – we have allowed thus far a level of corruption in our justice system as to invalidate the premises on which it was designed. Authorities have been granted to manipulate ethics and policy as a means to an end, because those who question their authority have been silenced by the same means.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for your article. I initially thought he was guilty, after all how could the media be so wrong -they aided in his public appearance of guilt…so why not. It didn’t impact me, until I realized this could have been my brother (also a police officer in another city). I started reading the interviews given by the accusers, and I was shocked…even more so when the jurors couldn’t connect the differences. Thank you for your work to show and expose the truth.

  • S.o. Helton

    Free this man!

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