Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw stands next to his vehicle (left). Holtzclaw, accused of sexually assaulting women he encountered while on patrol in neighborhoods near the state Capitol, is pictured in a courtroom during a hearing (right).
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The president of the Oklahoma NAACP wants the U.S. attorney general to open a hate crimes and civil rights investigation into alleged sexual assaults on Black women by an Oklahoma City police officer.
Anthony Douglas requested the investigation in an Aug. 28 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, The Oklahoman reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1wjUneU ). Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested on Aug. 21 and accused of groping and raping several Black women from February through June while on duty patrolling the city’s northeast side. Police have said there are at least eight alleged victims.
In the letter to Holder, Douglas wrote that details of the allegations against Holtzclaw “raise potentially serious concerns, particularly because it may be part of a continuing pattern of police brutality, misconduct, corruption and the use of excessive force and the use of deadly force by this police officer against unarmed African Americans.”
Douglas said in the letter that he applauded Oklahoma City police for investigating and arresting Holtzclaw, but hopes federal officials will expand the investigation and look at its civil rights ramifications.
He urged the officials to not only look at Holtzclaw’s case but also into “the potential for any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Oklahoma City Police Department.” Douglas did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking further comment Saturday.
Holder’s office did not respond to the newspaper for comment, and a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately return a phone call to the AP on Saturday.
Holtzclaw is listed as being Asian or Pacific Islander in court records. His attorney, Scott Adams, has said Holtzclaw denies the assault allegations.
Holtzclaw was charged with 16 felonies, including two counts of first-degree rape, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy, four counts of indecent exposure, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of stalking. He is on house arrest after being released on bail.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty told the newspaper Friday that he has not heard from Holder or the Justice Department, but stressed that the Police Department will cooperate fully if a federal civil rights investigation is ordered.
“We take all of our complaints very seriously,” Citty said. “Obviously, this is almost about as bad as it can get … in abuse of power by a police officer taking advantage of people he’s supposed to protect.”
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com