Protesters interrupted a fifth accuser in the sex crimes case against a fired Oklahoma City police officer Tuesday. The accuser’s testimony was briefly interrupted by the sound of chanting outside the courthouse.
“We want life!”
A group of about 100 men and women stood outside the Oklahoma County courthouse Tuesday morning in protest of the former officer, Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, who grew up in Enid. He is on trial for allegedly sexually abusing 13 black women while he was a police officer. The chant was in reference to Holtzclaw’s possible prison sentence.
Grace Franklin, a founder of OKC Artists for Justice, led one chant about 10:30 a.m. shouting, “We believe you ... Black women matter ... all women matter!” The protesters loudly repeated what she chanted.
Whenever Franklin yelled, “36 counts,” the group shouted, “We want life!”
District Judge Timothy Henderson told the jury, “That has nothing to do with what goes on in this courtroom ... Disregard anything that is yelled outside.”
Holtzclaw, 28, of Oklahoma City, is charged with 36 counts, including six counts of first-degree rape. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred between December 2013 and June 2014. He denies the allegations.
Holtzclaw’s attorney, Scott Adams, throughout the trial has tried to create doubt about each accuser’s account by referencing past drug or criminal activity.
One protester, the Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, held a sign Tuesday that read, “I am more than my past.”
“Just because some of the victims, who I also will refer to as ‘the survivors,’ have made some errors or made some mistakes ... it did not give him or anyone else the right to violate them in any way,” Dickerson said, addressing the protesters outside the courthouse. “None of these women should feel guilt, shame or responsible. He was a predator.”
Prosecutors allege on the evening of April 14, 2014, Holtzclaw made contact with the fifth testifying accuser. The woman testified she was was walking in northeast Oklahoma City when Holtzclaw asked her about drugs and handcuffed her.
“When he was taking one of my cuffs off, he fondled my breasts,” the woman testified. She said the illicit touching was over her clothing.
“I never told anyone … I didn’t think anyone would believe me because I’m an ex-con,” she said.
The 55-year-old woman wore an orange jail uniform with cuffs around her wrist and ankles while she testified. She is currently being held in the Oklahoma County jail on drug and assault complaints, records show.
The woman said the first time she told anyone about the abuse was when a detective visited her in jail months after the incident. Oklahoma City police detective Kim Davis testified she went to the jail as part of her investigation into Holtzclaw. The detective said she asked the woman if she had any inappropriate contact with a police officer.
“As soon as I said that, she didn’t verbalize anything. She hung her head and started crying,” the detective testified.
The defense attorney questioned the woman’s recollection. He contended the woman admitted to drinking liquor and smoking crack cocaine the day of the alleged abuse.
The attorney also questioned the woman about her multiple felony convictions and her history of giving false names and information to police.
Tuesday was the second time protesters were seen outside the courthouse during the trial. Seven women protested against Holtzclaw on the first day of the trial. The trial began Nov. 2 and is expected to last through the month.