The family of former Oklahoma City Police Department officer and Enid native Daniel Holtzclaw said taxpayers should be outraged by Oklahoma City’s recent settlement of an excessive force case.
Oklahoma City Council approved a $25,000 settlement in a lawsuit against Holtzclaw, who is serving a 263-year sentence for rape and other sexual offenses.
The council unanimously voted Tuesday to settle the case. The lawsuit was filed by Demetria M. Campbell, who said the ex-police officer pushed her into a brick wall in 2013. City records say she was treated in an emergency room after the incident and incurred $14,400 in medical expenses.
Campbell was not among the black women and a black teenager Holtzclaw was found guilty of sexually assaulting in 2015. Those victims also sued the city and the former officer following his 2014 arrest. The city does not concede liability in settling Campbell’s case.
Holtzclaw’s sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, said taxpayers should be outraged, calling Oklahoma City’s payoff cowardly and an opportunist exploitation of wrongful convictions.
“Demetria Campbell and her lawyers came forward only after the unjust verdicts in Daniel’s case to cash in on phony claims of excessive use of force and improper conduct that allegedly occurred in 2013, in response to a 911 call over a stolen vehicle,” Jenny Holtzclaw said. “The city’s own descriptions of Campbell’s claims include ‘outrageous,’ ‘opportunistic’ and ‘too inconsistent to be true’ — descriptions that also fit all of the accusers that prosecutors brought to the 2015 trial that led to Daniel’s unconscionable imprisonment for crimes of which he is 100 percent innocent.”
Jenny Holtzclaw said all conscientious police officers should be alarmed.
“Oklahoma City has given a new green light to false accusers to fabricate claims against cops months and years after uneventful encounters,” she said.
She said media outlets failed to report some facts about the 2013 encounter.
“Daniel conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner throughout the stop on Nov. 3, 2013, when a citizen reported a stolen vehicle via 911, “ she said.
She said when Campbell, who matched the suspect’s description, attempted to leave the scene, Daniel tracked her inside a restaurant, took her outside and handcuffed her while using a brick wall as leverage to safely take the woman into custody while by himself.
“During a deposition under oath, Campbell admitted that Daniel did not use excessive force,” Jenny Holtzclaw said.
Citing court documents, she said on Feb. 15, 2018, Campbell testified that while speaking with Daniel’s supervisor, Lt. Brian Bennett: “I did not tell him that I thought he (Holtzclaw) used unnecessary force.” She admitted that Daniel apologized for having to handle her physically, and that she told him: “I’ll forgive you.”
In their motion for summary judgment, Jenny Holtzclaw said Oklahoma City officials repeatedly blasted Campbell for her expedient tall tales and lack of credibility:
• “ ... It is important to note that Plaintiff Campbell has suffered no wrong, intentionally or negligently.”
• “ ... There are numerous inconsistencies in Plaintiff Campbell’s multiple versions of the events. ... Defendant City asserts that Plaintiff Campbell’s claims are too inconsistent to be true and are merely the product of an opportunity to piggyback onto the claims of certain individuals” who made allegations that led to the criminal trial.
• “Other inconsistencies that diminish Plaintiff Campbell’s credibility include the fact that she claimed to have read her medical records prior to the deposition, yet was unable to remember if she had been given a pain medicine prescription … “
• “Probably the most outrageous portion of Plaintiff Campbell’s testimony is that she was able to tell that Defendant Holtzclaw had an erection and placed it against her butt for two minutes. This claim did not conveniently surface until nearly a year after the Oklahoma County District Attorney filed charges against Defendant Holtzclaw.”
• “The fact that she now wants to change the narrative to fit the new allegation is telling of the opportunistic nature of this claim and severely cuts against her credibility.”
• “Simply put, the Plaintiff’s version of the events has changed every time between her interview with Lieutenant Bennett, her initial tort claim, her petition in the instant case, her response to Defendant City’s discovery requests, her deposition, and her response to defendant city’s motion for summary judgement. The Plaintiff should not be allowed to constantly change her version of the events to create a dispute of a material fact …”
Jenny Holtzclaw said Oklahoma City went against its own findings in settling the case.
“They argued in their Campbell case filings that accusers are not credible if their accusations change dramatically over time, contain myriad inconsistencies, and are lodged to ‘piggyback’ off of other complaints in the wake of news coverage and publicity,” Jenny said. “The city viewed Ms. Campbell as an opportunist who sued simply to enrich herself. The city alleged that her accusations were so flagrantly and obviously false that she should not even be given her day in court.”
Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted in December 2015 on 18 of 36 counts of sexual crimes, including four counts of first-degree rape. Holtzclaw maintains his innocence and is challenging the conviction and the DNA evidence used to convict him.
“Daniel is an innocent man who was wrongly convicted based on fatally flawed forensic evidence, a biased and incompetent police investigation, and prosecutorial misconduct,” Jenny Holtzclaw said. “The forensic science errors, unchallenged by Daniel’s trial attorney, culminated in Daniel’s wrongful conviction on 18 out of 36 counts after the prosecutor flagrantly misrepresented a minute quantity of DNA on the fly of Daniel’s uniform pants as deriving from vaginal fluid although no body fluids were detected and non-intimate DNA transfer explained the evidence.
“The grave injustices suffered by our son and brother have now been compounded by the city’s payoff to an individual who is opportunistically piggybacking off Daniel’s suffering.”
The family continues to await a decision by Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Daniel’s appeal.
Jenny Holtzclaw said the family hopes and prays the judges will come to the same conclusion that six internationally renowned scientists did when they reviewed the forensic errors and biased police investigation in this case.
“Daniel deserves a new trial,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.