Anti-cop frenzy, confirmation bias in Oklahoma
As the Oklahoma attorney general's office fights to keep hidden from public view the results of secret hearings on the DNA science flaws and falsehoods in former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's case, two prominent experts have stepped forward to shed bright light on the government's myriad mind-boggling failures.
Forensic scientist, criminal profiler and crime reconstructionist Dr. Brent Turvey and independent forensic DNA consultant Suzanna Ryan spoke out about the Holtzclaw case for the newest episode of my investigative program on CRTV.com.
Reflecting on the confirmation bias that drove the investigation, the elementary failures of evidence collection and the forensic missteps, Turvey told me that he and his colleagues "cannot understand how this case got into trial at all."
Holtzclaw is the wrongfully convicted Oklahoma City patrolman caught up in the nationwide anti-cop frenzy and social justice riots of Ferguson and Baltimore. After initial accuser Jannie Ligons -- who is suing Holtzclaw in a high-dollar lawsuit represented by Al Sharpton 2.0, Benjamin Crump -- went public with her sensational sexual assault claims in June 2014, Oklahoma City sex-crimes Detectives Rocky Gregory and Kim Davis solicited a field of 13 total accusers. They were all black women and almost all had histories of drug abuse, mental illness, prostitution and multiple crimes.
No "linkage analysis" was done to establish a factual basis for the alleged victim profile, Turvey told me. The profile was created from gut feelings, not science or professional expertise.
Seven additional accusers, including one male, told such preposterous stories that the cops were forced to reject them out of hand. Only one was prosecuted for lying to police. Of the 13 who went to trial, the jury rejected five of the accusers' stories and cleared Daniel of their charges (18 out of 36 total).
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Detectives Gregory and Davis preemptively told accusers they were searching for sexual assault victims of a "bad guy" on the police force and badgered women who repeatedly had denied they were victims of any sexual improprieties, refused to look at lineups or described an alleged attacker as "short" and "black" or "dark-skinned" (Daniel is 6-foot-1, pale and half Japanese).
Turvey -- who has worked for government agencies and universities across the world and authored multiple peer-reviewed textbooks on criminal profiling and investigation, forensic criminology and victimology, forensic science, criminal justice ethics and law enforcement corruption -- called the Oklahoma City detectives' approach "one of the most biased ways of approaching criminal investigation that (he'd) ever seen."
"You have detectives who have started with the notion that Mr. Holtzclaw is guilty," Turvey recounted, "searching through as many potential contacts as he's ever had" to confirm their narrative. Detectives weren't interested in pursuing other leads who matched accusers' descriptions. They were "just interested in making their case against Officer Holtzclaw. That's the definition of confirmation bias."
It's a major red flag, Turvey (whose most recent textbook is on false allegations) told me, "because the possibility that you're dealing with somebody who's falsely reporting the crime goes way up when you approach the case in this fashion."