Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Monday announced criminal charges against a former Inkster police officer involved in a high-profile case involving alleged brutality captured on video.
In a separate videotaped police encounter, Worthy said she won’t charge a police sergeant who arrested Andrew Jackson, a Detroit man charged with carjacking and whose arrest by a multi-jurisdictional, anti-carjacking task force was videotaped by a citizen Jan. 12 in Detroit.
In the Inkster case, former officer William Melendez was charged with misconduct in office and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
The case involves Floyd Dent, a Detroit motorist who is seen being beaten by Melendez during a stop in late January in Inkster. Melendez said he found cocaine on Dent, and he was charged with drug possession, although Worthy on Monday dismissed the charge.
“To many people in this region and across the country, police brutality appears to be out of control,” Worthy said during a press conference in her office Monday. “It eradicates the confidence that’s been built in those communities where good work has done (by police) to establish those relationships.
“We cannot tolerate those who abuse their authority … and prey on citizens. We cannot turn our heads when law enforcement becomes the lawbreaker.”
Dent and attorneys say he was racially profiled and officers used excessive force in Jan. 28, 2015, arrest. The video was released by his attorney, Greg Rohl.
On Wednesday, Melendez was fired from the Inkster Police Department, Teamsters Local 214 business representative Al Lewis said.
“The supervisor on the shift did his investigation and evidently found nothing wrong because Officer Melendez was on the road for another six weeks after that,” Lewis said. “It wasn’t until Dent got an attorney and all of the sudden the video is on TV that they decided to fire this guy.”
Melendez remains employed as a part-time officer in Highland Park, Lewis said.
Highland Park City Attorney Todd Perkins said Melendez will not return to active duty until the issue is resolved.
Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said his group has called for justice in the “horrific beating.”
“We feel that today’s charges are a step in the right direction to give Mr. Dent, and the entire community, a proper resolution,” Scott said in a release.
He also called on the Inkster Police Department to reassess its hiring practices so officers “should not go from municipality to municipality to engage in misconduct and abusive practices.”
In the Jackson case, the sergeant involved in the beating, Ronald Dupuis, was seen hitting the suspect, but Worthy said it did not rise to the level of criminal charges.
“Mr. Jackson was not handcuffed when the video captured (the incident),” she said. “It was clear he was a felon attempting to flee … and refused to surrender his right hand for handcuffing.
“Although the conduct is improper, it does not support a criminal charge. The police department should determine an appropriate administrative response.”
Jackson, 51, who is set to go to trial in June, is charged with carjacking a Detroit grandmother and her two young grandsons at gunpoint Jan 12 at Plainview and Evergreen in Detroit. During his preliminary examination March 3 on the carjacking charges, Jackson denied it was him.
After the alleged carjacking, Jackson reportedly fled the scene and was apprehended by several police officers assigned to the multi-agency anti-theft task force on Evergreen not far from where the original incident took place.
A resident in the area videotaped the arrest and police officers are seen on the tape kicking Jackson as he is handcuffed. Jackson has filed a $1 million civil lawsuit in the matter claiming his constitutional rights were violated.
Worthy said she reached her decisions on both cases after Michigan State Police investigations.