Chief Vicki Yost’s resignation is effective immediately, said the city of Inkster in a statement. The move was praised by civil rights activists, who said they hoped it will lead to a police department that’s more respectful of the community.
The city of Inkster did not address the controversy over the beating in their statement, saying: “The city would like to thank Chief Yost for her services and wish her the best in future endeavors.”
The resignation came on the same day that a judge threw out a charge of cocaine possession against Floyd Dent, the man beaten by Inkster police in a traffic stop on Jan. 28th. His beating, captured on video, led to protests and anger among civil rights advocates and to felony charges against the officer.
Dent, who is African American, was pulled over by police in Inkster, yanked out of his car, Tasered and assaulted – including repeated punches to his head – by several white police officers. Inkster is a black-majority city; Yost is white.
Protesters said it was a case of racial profiling, linking it to the Black Lives Matter movement that came about after a police shooting death in Ferguson, Mo.
Yost worked for 19 years in the Detroit Police Department, becoming a deputy chief in 2013. Last year, she became the police chief in Inkster. A message left Wednesday afternoon with the assistant of Chief Yost was not immediately returned.
“I think it’s a positive move, a step in the right direction for Inkster,” the Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church and president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, the advocacy group led by Rev. Al Sharpton, said of the resignation. Williams said he hopes that Inkster works “to make sure the police force is culturally competent.”
Williams said that he realizes that Inkster is facing financial challenges and suggested that the city might work with the Wayne County Sheriff’s department for policing.
Ron Scott, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, also applauded the resignation.
“I think it’s long overdue,” Scott said. “I felt for a long time the Chief had taken some questionable actions. She was very slow to move. The city of Inkster needs to clean house, to change how they choose officers, how they’re vetted.”
After Wednesday’s dismissal of the drug charges, Dent said, “Now I can get some sleep.” He added that he’s grateful for the widespread support he’s received and happy to know the officer who hit him has been arrested and faces criminal charges.
Dent, 57, and his attorney have said police lied about the cocaine police said was found in his 2011 Cadillac during the Jan. 28 stop.
Police Officer William Melendez, shown on dash-cam video hitting Dent in the head about 14 times, was fired from the Inkster and Highland Park police departments and has been charged with two felonies in the case.
Melendez, 46, of Novi faces counts of misconduct in office for mistreatment of a prisoner and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He’s due back in court at 9 a.m. May 6.
Asked about what he’d like to say to Melendez, Dent replied:
“I’d like to ask him, why’d he beat me like that? I mean, he had no reason to do it. So now that he’s behind bars and everything, he should feel the pain I felt. ”
Dent said he’s aged 20 years with “all that worrying” over the case.
His son, Brandon Dent, 32, said one of the biggest frustrations was dealing with the pressure of waiting three months for the case to be dropped. He’s continuing his pursuit of his goal to become a state trooper, something he has wanted to do since before his father’s arrest. He said Wednesday’s dismissal of the case made him even more inspired to join law enforcement.
“It gave me a lot more confidence in the system that we live with, that’s in place right now,” Brandon Dent said.
Floyd Dent, a longtime Ford worker, didn’t appear to have any criminal history in Michigan beyond a number of traffic infractions. He was bloodied after the arrest and hospitalized for injuries he received during the traffic stop.
His attorney, Greg Rohl, asked Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner to order the case dismissed after assistant prosecuting attorney Thomas Dawson said there doesn’t appear to be sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Melendez has been hit with 12 lawsuits since 1996, accusing him of planting evidence, assaulting people, making up police reports, and wrongly arresting people. In 2003, he was charged along with other officers by federal authorities but was later acquitted. Federal investigators have said Melendez was known as Robocop on the street.
Scott said he’s concerned how Inkster hired Melendez despite his record. It’s unclear who in Inkster hired Melendez. Inkster’s city manger could not be immediately reached Wednesday afternoon.
Yost and Melendez both worked in Detroit’s Police Department at the same time, said Williams and Scott.
Scott said the Inkster case shows there needs to be more accountability for officers who abuse people. He said that more officers should have been charged, saying that the video shows that other officers were involved in the beating of Dent.
“The culture needs to be changed,” Scott said.
Williams said that since Ferguson, there has been more awareness of the issue of police abuse that is resulting in some changes. Video, too, has played a role in exposing the problem, he said.
“Some of the things that they may have been able to get away with in the past, they can’t get away with anymore.”