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Inkster cop beating victim hopes verdict brings healing

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A day after a former Inkster police officer was found guilty of assault, the African-American motorist whose beating was caught on a cop’s dashcam said he hopes the public will learn from the event.

The lawyer representing Floyd Dent, a 58-year-old Detroit resident and longtime Ford Motor Co. employee, released a statement about the verdict against William Melendez, convicted Thursday of assault and misconduct.

Dent, in a statement released Friday from Novi attorney Gregory Rohl, said he is hopeful his ordeal “will serve to educate the public and reinforce the belief that all lives matter without regard to the color of their skin.”

In the statement Dent “further hopes that the healing that the community so desperately needs can now begin.”

The highly anticipated verdict came after four hours of deliberations in the police beating case that drew comparisons to recent police incidents involving white police officers and African-American motorists.

The videotaped beating of Dent Jan. 28 in an area off Michigan Avenue near Fairbairn went viral on social media after Melendez is seen repeatedly beating Dent in the head. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Donaldson said Melendez struck Dent 16 times.

The jury, made up of seven African-Americans, cleared Melendez of strangulation.

Dent also thanked the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Michigan State Police Lt. Twana Powell for “establishing the truth in this case before the jury.” He also praised Wayne Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, who ordered Melendez immediately jailed after the guilty verdict, for “remanding ‘Robocop’ Melendez to a place where he can no longer hurt innocent members of the community.”

Melendez could face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 3. His attorney, James C. Thomas, said the former police officer plans to appeal.

Thomas has maintained during the trial his client did not break the law and that he did not use excessive force in trying to restrain Melendez. Thomas said Dent was being combative and resisted arrest when he was stopped in a “high crime” area of Inkster.

Melendez did not take the stand in his own defense during the two-week trial.

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