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A suburban Detroit police officer who was seen on dash-cam video dragging a black man from his car before kicking and punching him repeatedly will be charged with two felony counts, a county prosecutor said Monday.
A drug possession charge against the man, Floyd Dent, 57, will be dropped, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. Dent's treatment by Inkster police during a Jan. 28 traffic stop sparked outrage after the video was released by NBC affiliate WDIV.
"We cannot turn our heads when the law enforcer becomes the law breaker," Worthy said during a news conference Monday. "The alleged police brutality in this case cannot and will not be tolerated."
William Melendez, who allegedly punched Dent 16 times while keeping him in a chokehold during an arrest, will be charged with one count of mistreatment of a prisoner and one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, Worthy said.
WDIV had also later released a video that showed officers stripping Dent to his underwear and searching him while he was being held in jail.
If convicted, Melendez could face up to 15 years in prison.
Inkster City Manager Richard Marsh said in a statement that Melendez had been fired from the Inkster Police Department on April 15, “which I and others believe was in the best interest of our community.” Marsh said he wouldn’t comment further on the charges “in order to preserve the integrity of both the criminal and the civil actions surrounding Officer Melendez’s employment.”
Melendez was also a part-time employee at the Highland Park Police Department, according to WDIV. The department said in a statement that Melendez had not worked there for at least 60 days, and would not work there, pending the outcome of the case. “Mr. Melendez will not be working on the streets of Highland Park or in the capacity of a police officer on behalf of the City of Highland Park,” Highland Park Chief of Police Kevin Coney said in the statement.
The case was independently investigated by the Michigan State Police and separately by the Wayne County Prosecutors Office.
Charges against Dent of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer were dropped after the video was released nearly two months after the incident occurred. A count of possession of cocaine remained, but Dent claimed the drugs were planted in his car. The drug charge against Dent was dropped "in the best interest of justice," Worthy said.
At a news conference Monday, Dent thanked his legal team, friends and family, the prosecutor’s office and investigators. He also thanked WDIV for releasing the video and the National Action Network for supporting him during what he called a “horrific nightmare.”
His lawyer, Gregory Rohl, said Dent was “overcome with relief” when he heard charges against him would be dropped and charges had been brought against Melendez. “I feel relief knowing that the system, this time, actually worked,” Rohl added.
- Floyd Dent, Beaten by Detroit-Area Cops, Pleads Not Guilty to Drug Charge
- Black Man Beaten by Mich. Police, Floyd Dent, Passes Lie Detector Test
- Detroit-Area Cops Shown Beating Black Man, Floyd Dent, During Traffic Stop
— Elisha Fieldstadt