The brave woman whose refusal to stay silent led to the conviction of an Oklahoma City police officer for multiple rapes said Friday “he just picked the wrong lady to stop that night.”
“All I can say is, I was innocent,” said Jannie Ligons. “I was out there alone and helpless… He did things to me that I didn’t think a police officer would do.”
Ligons spoke out a day after former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, charged with raping 13 African-American women while on patrol, was convicted on a slew of charges. He faces more than 250 years in prison.
“I just thank God I can stand here,” Ligons said. “I was violated by a police officer.”
Then the plucky grandmother, who is in her 50s, revisited what happened to her after Holtzclaw pulled her car over on June 18, 2014.
“I was afraid for my life,” Ligons said. “I kept begging, ‘Please sir, don’t make me do this’.”
Ligons thanked God for letting her “live to tell this story.” She said in the wake of what happened, she was so traumatized she needed therapy and later suffered a stroke.
“I was no criminal,” Ligons said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Sharday Hill, another of the victims, fought back tears as she described how she was stripped and shackled to a hospital bed before she was “violated” by the officer.
“I was in survivor mode,” she recalled. “I had to do what we was making me do.”
Ligons’ lawyer Benjamin Crump called her a “courageous hero” and blasted Holtzclaw as a “serial rapist with a badge.” He admitted he was not sure if an all-white jury would find the officer guilty.
“I was really concerned justice would elude them.” Crump said of the victims.
Holtzclaw, 29, began sobbing and rocking back and forth as the verdicts were read Thursday. He had been charged with 36 counts of rape, forcible oral sodomy, burglary and other charges. The jury found him guilty on 18 counts.
When he is sentenced in January, Holtzclaw faces up to 260 years in prison, NBC affiliate KFOR reported.
Prosecutors said Holtzclaw preyed on vulnerable women — most with police records — who he thought would never report what happened to police.
But after Ligons came forward, so did other victims. They told detectives strikingly similar stories about how Holtzclaw coerced them into having sex after threatening to arrest them on outstanding warrants or for possessing drug paraphernalia.
When Holtzclaw finally went on trial, a local activist group called OKC Artists for Justice launched a social media campaign to get the word out to the national media.
“There is a tendency not to believe black woman,” group co-leader Grace Franklin said. “Black women matter.”