We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Monday announced criminal charges against a former Inkster police officer involved in a high-profile case involving alleged brutality captured on video.
In a separate videotaped police encounter, Worthy said she won’t charge a police sergeant who arrested Andrew Jackson, a Detroit man charged with carjacking and whose arrest by a multi-jurisdictional, anti-carjacking task force was videotaped by a citizen Jan. 12 in Detroit.
In the Inkster case, former officer William Melendez was charged with misconduct in office and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
The case involves Floyd Dent, a Detroit motorist who is seen being beaten by Melendez during a stop in late January in Inkster. Melendez said he found cocaine on Dent, and he was charged with drug possession, although Worthy on Monday dismissed the charge.
“To many people in this region and across the country, police brutality appears to be out of control,” Worthy said during a press conference in her office Monday. “It eradicates the confidence that’s been built in those communities where good work has done (by police) to establish those relationships.
“We cannot tolerate those who abuse their authority … and prey on citizens. We cannot turn our heads when law enforcement becomes the lawbreaker.”
Dent and attorneys say he was racially profiled and officers used excessive force in Jan. 28, 2015, arrest. The video was released by his attorney, Greg Rohl.
On Wednesday, Melendez was fired from the Inkster Police Department, Teamsters Local 214 business representative Al Lewis said.
“The supervisor on the shift did his investigation and evidently found nothing wrong because Officer Melendez was on the road for another six weeks after that,” Lewis said. “It wasn’t until Dent got an attorney and all of the sudden the video is on TV that they decided to fire this guy.”
Melendez remains employed as a part-time officer in Highland Park, Lewis said.
Highland Park City Attorney Todd Perkins said Melendez will not return to active duty until the issue is resolved.
In the Jackson case, the sergeant involved in the beating, Ronald Dupuis, was seen hitting the suspect, but Worthy said it did not rise to the level of criminal charges.
“Mr. Jackson was not handcuffed when the video captured (the incident),” she said. “It was clear he was a felon attempting to flee … and refused to surrender his right hand for handcuffing.
“Although the conduct is improper, it does not support a criminal charge. The police department should determine an appropriate administrative response.”
Jackson, 51, who is set to go to trial in June, is charged with carjacking a Detroit grandmother and her two young grandsons at gunpoint Jan 12 at Plainview and Evergreen in Detroit. During his preliminary examination March 3 on the carjacking charges, Jackson denied it was him.
After the alleged carjacking, Jackson reportedly fled the scene and was apprehended by several police officers assigned to the multi-agency anti-theft task force on Evergreen not far from where the original incident took place.
A resident in the area videotaped the arrest and police officers are seen on the tape kicking Jackson as he is handcuffed. Jackson has filed a $1 million civil lawsuit in the matter claiming his constitutional rights were violated.
Worthy said she reached her decisions on both cases after Michigan State Police investigations.
Newly released police dashcam footage shows the violent arrest of an unarmed African-American during an alleged traffic violation in Michigan. The man claims he did nothing wrong but was put in a chokehold, beaten and tasered repeatedly.
The incident, which is now under state investigation, happened in January, but the police dashcam video was obtained by Detroit’s WDIV and released on Tuesday. The video shows Michigan State Police pulling over Floyd Dent, 57, for an alleged traffic violation. Dent is seen opening his car door as two police officers arrive, one with his gun drawn, and pull him from the car, forcing him to the ground. One officer put him in a chokehold.
“I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me,” Dent told WDIV. “I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’”
According to police reports, officers were watching an area in Inkster, a suburb of Detroit known to have drug activity, when they saw Dent’s car through binoculars. They followed him and said Dent didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign. When police turned on their flashing lights, Dent didn’t immediately respond, though he did eventually pull over.
“The next thing I know, the officer runs up to me with his gun, you know, talking about blowing my head off,” Dent told the news outlet. “Then he grabbed me out of the car and started beating on me, you know. I just couldn’t believe it.”
While in a chokehold, Dent was punched 16 times in the head by one officer. Another one tried to handcuff him, and a third officer arrived and Tasered him three times.
Police officers claim they were protecting themselves, that Dent resisted arrest and bit the officer who placed him in a chokehold in the arm, but there is no evidence of the police officer seeking medical treatment, according to WDIV. What the video shows in its final scenes is Dent with a bleeding head being held on the front of a police car.
Police later accused Dent of having a suspended driving license and for possession of crack cocaine, which they claim they found in the car. Dent tested negative for drugs and claims they were planted. Dent is being prosecuted for drug possession. He was offered a plea deal, which he rejected, and goes to court on April 1.
The police officer who held Dent in the chokehold, William Melendez, has been in trouble before, according to WDIV. He was fired from the Detroit Police Department for falsifying records. In 2003, he was also charged criminally in federal court for planting evidence, although a jury found him not guilty. He is now on desk duty.
Around 50 demonstrators protested against the brutality outside the Inkster Police Department on Wednesday.
Police Chief Vicki Yost told protestors the state police department is conducting an investigation into the case.
“I understand your concern,” Yost said, according to AP. “Again, we’re going to let the investigation play out… we’re going to act accordingly. We’re not hiding from this.”