Ex-Inkster officer doesn’t testify in his assault trial

By George Hunter
The Detroit News

Former Inkster police officer William Melendez did not take the stand Thursday in his trial on charges he beat an unarmed motorist, as the defense rested its case.

Melendez, who waived his right to testify, is accused of using excessive force during a videotaped January traffic stop that garnered national attention.

In her instructions to the jury Thursday, Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said the fact Melendez did not take the stand in his defense should not be held against him.

The jury is scheduled Tuesday to take a bus tour of the area on Michigan Avenue where the incident occurred and there will be one more witness in the trial, which began Nov. 4.

Closing arguments will follow Wednesday, Evans said, with each side getting about an hour-and-a-half for their closings.

Melendez was fired from his part-time job on the Inkster force after video of the arrest surfaced showing him striking 58-year-old motorist Floyd Dent 16 times.

Melendez is charged with misconduct in office, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and strangulation, a 10-year felony. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Melendez “abused” his power and the public trust.

In Thursday’s testimony, Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt said a blood test taken shortly after the arrest showed no cocaine in Dent’s system. However, a urine test did test positive for cocaine.

“There’s a difference between finding cocaine in the urine and finding cocaine in the blood,” Schmidt said.

Also Thursday, Michigan State Police Lt. Twana Powell, who headed the criminal investigation against Melendez, testified Dent had been arrested seven times before Melendez stopped him.

Dent testified last week about his encounter with Melendez and other officers.

“I didn’t resist,” he said. “The officers choked me for so long, I passed out for a minute.”

Dent and his attorney reached a $1.4 million civil settlement with the city of Inkster over the incident.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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