The shocking caught-on-video police beating of Floyd Dent, who has worked his whole adult life at a Ford Motor Company factory in Detroit, and who, at age 57, has no criminal record, is already setting off protests in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan, where the January 28 beating occurred, after dash-cam video of the attack was made public Wednesday.
The video can be viewed above. Be warned — the video contains violent images and may prove upsetting.
Police say that Dent was suspected of purchasing crack cocaine at a hotel known for drug activity. But the 37-year-old auto worker was tested for drugs in his system shortly after his arrest, and came up clean.
Police also claim that Dent failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, and took a turn without signaling.
In the video, officers are seen pulling their guns immediately upon approaching Dent’s vehicle. Dent was unarmed, but one officer said that Dent bit him — a claim which Dent denies. The police also said that Dent told them, “I’ll kill you,” when they pulled him out of the vehicle. But no audio of the incident is known to exist.
A bag of crack cocaine was discovered, police say, in Dent’s vehicle. But one of the arresting officers, William Melendez, was charged in 2003 with planting evidence on suspects and falsifying arrest reports by federal prosecutors, who accused him of a conspiracy with another cop to “run roughshod over the civil rights of the victims.”
While Melendez was acquitted of those charges, Dent — who still faces a drug charge related to the cocaine in his car — maintains that the drugs were planted, and his attorneys say that another video, which has yet to be released to the public, actually catches Melendez in the act of planting the crack.
In the video of the beating, it is Melendez who can be seen repeatedly punching Dent in the head with his right fist while restraining Dent in a choke hold with his left arm — at the same time another officer holds Dent down by his lower body. A third officer then arrives on the scene.
After the beating, Dent was hospitalized for two days, treated for injuries to his head and his face. According to his attorney, Greg Rohl, Dent suffered a broken orbital bone as well as bleeding on his brain.
In all, 10 police officers showed up on the scene of Dent’s arrest. All of the officers were white, though Inskter is a predominantly African-American suburb of Detroit.
Protesters gathered at the Inkster police station Wednesday, and the crowd included a former Inkster police chief who now says his former department should simply be closed down.
“I would disband this department and turn it over to the sheriff’s department. You do have good officers out here but you have enough bad apples to poison the system,” said former chief Hilton Napoleon.
“You have officers out here that need to go turn their badges in right now. I said that when I was chief.”
Rohl said that Floyd Dent was targeted solely because he is African-American by an officer who “saw him allegedly through binoculars at 600 yards and determined… that he saw some kind of criminal activity.”
[Image: Inkster Police Department]