In Inkster, residents push to have more officers fired
In an often tense meeting Tuesday, Inkster residents and community leaders called for officers involved in the rough arrest of a motorist caught on video during a January traffic stop to be dismissed or placed on leave.
"Put them on paid leave if you cannot fire them," Inkster resident Eleanor Acuff said during a two-hour special City Council meeting Tuesday night. "Satisfy the citizens with what they came here for."
Detroiter Floyd Dent was stopped Jan. 28 in the city. A patrol car video shows him being pulled from his car and being beaten and hit with a Taser during the arrest. Police said he failed to obey stop signs and refused to pull over, then resisted arrest and threatened them.
He was charged with resisting and obstructing, fleeing and eluding, and possession of cocaine, which Dent said police planted. All charges have been dropped.
Release of the video in late March sparked protests and charges of police brutality. Former Inkster Officer William Melendez was fired and charged with misconduct in office and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and the city’s police chief, Vicki Yost, resigned amid the fallout.
Tuesday evening, Dent and a group of supporters were in the audience at the standing-room-only meeting at City Hall.
Residents asked if Yost and Melendez were vetted before joining the department. City Manager Richard Marsh said Yost came highly recommended and added that he was aware only of litigation against Melendez that had been dismissed before he joined the department.
They also asked about Dent’s booking video released earlier this week that appears to show officers mocking Dent. The video had no audio.
Marsh said the city would conduct an investigation of the officers shown in the arrest and booking videos.
"If disciplinary action is recommended, I will either support that or go higher than what they're requesting," he said. "If they are not requesting disciplinary action, I can override that and make disciplinary action even without the recommendation of the officer doing the investigation. That is with the consultation of our attorneys."
Marsh said the city has five candidates for the police chief spot, which will be reviewed May 7. Marsh said the city hopes to have a permanent replacement in 60-90 days.
Crystal Linton, executive director of the the National Action Network Inkster chapter, said the group expects the city to take action against all of the officers involved, not just Melendez.
"Fire them," Linton said. "... Fire them even if a recommendation has not come (for prosecution)."