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Inkster motorist beating case set to start next week

Oralandar Brand-Williams

Ninety prospective jurors will be impaneled in the trial for the former Inkster police officer accused in the beating of motorist Floyd Dent, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans said Thursday.

The jury selection begins Monday in the trial of William Melendez and is expected to last two days. The jury pool will be broken up into four panels for the prosecutor, defense attorney and the judge to question whether they will be suitable to serve on the jury.

Melendez has denied he was wrong.

Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday for both sides. The trial is expected to last two weeks, Evans said.

The judge said prospective jurors will be asked about how much they have seen or read about the case in the media.

“We will ask them about the media attention,” Evans said Thursday. However, there will not be a questionnaire given to potential jurors.

Melendez was charged with misconduct in office, assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the incident and strangulation, , a 10-year felony, which sparked outrage after the videotaped beating of Dent went viral on social media. The incident occurred following a Jan. 28 traffic stop in Inkster.

Melendez denies wrongdoing in the case.

Dent had been charged with cocaine possession and resisting or assaulting an officer but those charged were later dismissed. Floyd and his attorney also reached a $1.4 million settlement with the city of Inkster in the case.

During a pre-trial hearing in August, Evans agreed to allow the admission of testimony about Dent’s possible drug use before the stop and also medical records relating to the beating.

The judge also is allowing testimony about Melendez’s alleged “peaceful trait.” She also is going to allow information about Dent’s past arrests, which defense attorneys say show the motorist knew not to open his door during the stop.

Melendez has been accused in past police misconduct. He was sued by a civilian in federal court over a 2011 arrest in which he is accused of choking and beating the man, Deshawn Acklin, until he allegedly lost consciousness.

Acklin was not charged with a crime, according to court documents in the lawsuit filed in 2013.

Melendez was fired from the Inkster Police Department shortly after the charges were brought against him.


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