Rev. Charles Williams II was joined by approximately 50 other protesters on March 25 outside of the police headquarters in Inkster – a working class suburb of Detroit. The Christian pastor was leading a protest over the January 28 arrest and beating of a black man by local police who was pulled from his car and punched several times in the head. The protest in Inkster came following the release of a police dashcam video by local WDIV television of the arrest of Floyd Dent (57). The video records the scene where Dent is punched repeatedly in the head by one officer while another tries to handcuff him. Dent, who was on the ground, was bloodied in the affray.
According to local police, Dent had disregarded stop signs and then refused to stop his vehicle as requested. They said that Dent then resisted arrest and threatened them. The police also allege that they found a bag of crack cocaine in Dent’s vehicle.
In a subsequent news conference, Dent claimed that he was hospitalized for three days after suffering broken ribs, bleeding on the brain, as well as other injuries. Dent said he had defended himself during the arrest because police were “nearly choking me to death.” He also claimed that the police threatened him, saying "Get out of the car or I'll blow your brains out."
In the presser, Dent said "I wasn't resisting arrest," …"When someone is beating your face, you're going to protect yourself."
Before the press conference, police requested Pastor Williams and protesters to leave the police department. They were met outside by the Inkster police chief. Police Chief Vicki Yost said that Michigan State Police are now investigating the incident, while Inkster police are also looking into it. “We’re not hiding from this,” said Yost.
Pastor Williams is calling for the dismissal of the two officers involved. "We will shut Inkster down until we get justice," said Pastor Williams, who added that the video "made me sick."
In a report on the incident, Inkster Police Officer William Melendez wrote that he saw Dent’s vehicle pull into a hotel parking lot. He said that Dent went into a room there for a few minutes and then left. Melendez then turned on his lights when Dent allegedly failed to use his indicator lights and then disregarded a stop sign. When Dent did pull over, Melendez alleges that he approached with his service pistol drawn and raised it when he thought that the unarmed Dent was reaching for a weapon.
Another officer pulled Dent to the ground while Melendez put him in hold and punched him. Melendez alleged that Dent bit him on the arm. Another officer used a stun gun three times in an effort to subdue the suspect. While a local judge has dismissed the charges of flight and resisting an officer, Dent is still facing a drug charge. Dent claims that officers planted the crack cocaine in his vehicle. He also claims that a test at a hospital showed that he was “clean” of drugs and alcohol. As for Officer Melendez, he once faced misconduct charges while he served on the Detroit police force.
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