One More Police Chief Is Out The Door After Video Of Beating Surfaces (VIDEO)
Inkster, Mich.’s interim police chief resigned Wednesday. Chief Vicki Yost made the move two days after one of her officers, William Melendez, was charged with misconduct and assault for beating a black autoworker during a traffic stop.
The cascade of events happened, of course, after the surfacing of a dash-cam video that graphically showed the beating. Driver Floyd Dent was stopped by Melendez and his partner in January. After the officer pulled Dent from his car, he gripped him around the neck and repeatedly punched him in the head.
In a shockingly familiar refrain, Dent frantically told the officer he couldn’t breathe. During an interview with local media in March, Dent said:
“I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me. I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe’.”
In addition, Dent alleges that the officer then planted cocaine in his car, resulting in charges of drug possession. On Wednesday, the same day that Chief Yost resigned, the charges against Dent were dropped.
The autoworker has no criminal history. Melendez’s history, however, is not that clean. Over the last 19 years, 12 lawsuits have been brought against him for allegations of assault, planting evidence, falsifying police reports, and wrongful arrest. Ron Scott, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, questions who hired Melendez for the Inkster police force, with that kind of record.
It is known that Yost and Melendez worked for the Detroit Police Department at the same time. Yost served there for 19 years before retiring and accepting the position with Inkster.
Inkster is a predominantly black community that neighbors Detroit. The town is led by an African-American mayor, Hilliard Hampton. Hampton told WXYZ-TV that nothing like the beating of Dent had happened in the 16 years that he’s held office.
Ron Scott asserts that more officers should have been charged. The video shows at least 3 others were involved in Dent’s arrest. Scott told the Detroit Free Press:
“The culture needs to be changed.”
That opinion is reverberating throughout the nation as a racist culture is being identified in other predominantly white police departments. The hope that comes out of the situation was expressed by Inkster minister Rev. Charles Williams II. Williams wants to see the police become “culturally competent” in dealing with the community they are meant to protect. Videotaping is a means of helping that happen. He voiced what is becoming more and more apparent:
“Some of the things that they may have been able to get away with in the past, they can’t get away with anymore.”
Fortunately, this beating didn’t escalate into murder. Former officer Melendez has been removed from the streets of Inkster. Not only has he lost his job, but the felony charges that he’s facing could land him in prison for 10 years. If convicted, it’ll be a long time before Melendez can present a threat to anyone else.
The dash-cam footage can be seen in the following news video:
Feature photo, screen shot from YouTube video.
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