Source: Lynette Holloway/News One
An attorney representing victims of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, convicted of raping Black women, condemned prison officials for removing any trace of his whereabouts from the database, saying it is causing his clients “crushing anxiety.”
“Not knowing exactly where or if Holtzclaw is locked up brings crushing anxiety to our clients fearful that Holtzclaw might be able to somehow get to them,” Damario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney representing seven of the disgraced officer’s 13 victims in a civil suit, told NewsOne. They have a court hearing scheduled in the case on March 2.
But Alex Gerszewski, public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told NewsOne that Holtzclaw is in the system, noting that he was entered there after his conviction, but quickly removed for his protection.
“We’re giving them our word that he is in the system,” he said. “We know where he is, but we are not giving up his location for his safety.”
Gerszewski declined to say if he was in solitary confinement or with other inmates. He explained that it’s common practice for the department to conceal the whereabouts of high-profile prisoners for their protection.
But Solomon-Simmons took issue with the erasure of information, which came to light last week.
“Everyone knows it is common practice for convicted police officers to serve their time in protective custody or even in other states for obvious reasons,” he said. “However, we see no justification for Holtzclaw’s whereabouts to be completely erased from the public record.”
He also noted that the revelation underscores the favorable treatment that Holtzclaw has received “throughout his reign of terror, including being allowed by the police department to stay on the streets after they received credible complaints of his predatory attacks. It shows that police officers, even when they are convicted of the most heinous crimes, still get special treatment.”
Holtzclaw was fired last year–nearly two years after allegations began to surface, notes Solomon-Simmons.
The 29-year-old was convicted of 18 charges of rape and sexual battery and was sentenced last month to 263 consecutive years in prison in the landmark case. His sentence does not allow for release.