You may recall the story of Floyd Dent – A Michigan man beaten, choked, and tased after police pulled him from his car at gunpoint during a traffic stop in January.
Inkster Police said 57-year-old Dent was found in possession of cocaine, had refused to show his hands, and made a verbal threat towards the officers. Results of a polygraph test, however, told a different story – as did a dash-cam video of the incident.
The footage showed Dent receive 16 blows to the head, a kick to the arm, and multiple taser strikes.
“I’m lucky to be living,” Dent said following the assualt. “I think they were trying to kill me, especially when they choked me. I was on my last breath. I told them, ‘Officer please, I can’t breathe.’”
Police said they followed Dent’s car into a suburban Detroit neighborhood known for drug dealing and pulled him over for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
Police claimed Dent was trying to flee in his car, but the dash-cam footage clearly shows Dent comply with officers by pulling over and opening his car door in order to address them. At no point does the footage show any attempt at retreat, or any threatening actions.
“Next thing I know, he took out his gun. He’s talking about blowing off my head,” Dent said. “Then he grabbed me out the car and started beating on me. I just couldn’t believe it.”
In the footage, Dent can be seen bleeding profusely from his head as officers escort him to a patrol car.
Watch the raw footage:
Dent was arrested on numerous charges, including driving with a suspended license, resisting a police officer, simple assault and battery of a police officer, and possession of crack cocaine – which police allege was found in the car.
In lieu of the video, as well as the polygraph test Dent aced, the officers’ claims came under suspicion. Eventually, all charges against Dent were dropped and he filed a civil lawsuit.
He settled that suit with the city of Inkster for $1.4 million in May, but after the city couldn’t seem to find the money, officials came up with a solution: a tax hike that required residents with at least $40,000 worth of property to pay roughly $130 each.
According to Mayor Hilliard Hampton, Inkster’s liability insurance policy allows only for payouts of above $2 million – and although the city had a surplus and was out of debt at the time of the incident – a consent agreement it has operated under for several years restricted tapping the general fund to finalize the settlement.
Residents were given until Aug. 31 to pay up.
The Inkster Police officer seen in the footage applying the chokehold to Dent is Ex-Detroit Police officer William Melendez – who was known as “Robocop” in that department.
While working in Detroit, Melendez was indicted along with 16 other officers in 2003 for the charges of planting evidence, falsifying reports, and stealing seized cash and property. A jury found Melendez not guilty, but he was again facing claims of planting evidence and falsifying reports in connection with Dent’s cocaine charge.
Melendez, who was fired by Inkster police in April, began his criminal trial in May on the charges of misconduct in office, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and assault by strangulation.
On Thursday, he was convicted of the two former charges and had his bond revoked, forcing him to stay in jail. He faces up to 10 years in prison and will be sentenced on Dec. 3.
Prosecutors said in a statement that “the jury’s verdict in th[e] case is important because it shows that police brutality cannot and will not be tolerated,” and additionally asserted that “public confidence in law enforcement is eroded when police officers abuse citizens.”