William Melendez, an officer nicknamed ‘Robocop’ by the press for his brutal beating of 58 year old motorist Floyd Dent in Inkster, MI, has been sentenced to a term of no less than 13 months and up to 10 years in prison.
Melendez was convicted in November of assault with intent to do great bodily harm along with department misconduct after dash-cam footage showed Melendez grabbing Mr. Dent and throwing him to the ground, striking the defendant 16 times in the head and subsequently tased.
At this point, the footage clearly shows a group of officers celebrating and bumping fists with each other.
At his sentencing, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans summarized succinctly her feelings on this case, not only with regards to the atrocity of the crimes committed, but how it relates within the much larger context of police brutality in communities of color, and the much maligned “blue wall of silence” that places a premium on unified silence from officers when faced with injustices and criminal behavior inside their department.
Referring to the dash-cam footage as the “eye of justice” she spared no cordiality in referring to Melendez’s behavior as “cowardly” and “barbaric.”
“There’s a culture among police officers … the ‘Blue wall of silence,’ protecting police officers at all cost … us versus them … and cover-up mentality…The game went like this: Let’s follow a car in a known drug area, and based on your experience you knew it would likely be a black man … ” Evans said. “You and your sidekick … caught your prey.”
According to Dent’s attorney, Gregory Rohl, Dent suffered a fractured left orbital bone, blood splatters on his brain, and four broken ribs, injuries which left him hospitalized for three days. He was charged with driving on a suspended license, possession of cocaine, and assaulting a police officers, which were all subsequently dismissed after the dash-cam footage was made available.
It is refreshing and commendable to see Judge Evans using this atrocious disregard for human life from the very people sworn to protect and uphold our communities as an opportunity to shine light not only on the widespread issue of police brutality in communities of color, but on the systemic culture of cover-up and misconduct after the fact.
She referred to the 1.37 million settlement the City of Inkster reached with Mr. Dent, making the point that not only would Mr. Dent have given back every penny of the city’s money to avoid this nearly-fatal assault, but that the city itself could have used this money to better train it’s officers to deescalate and preserve the quality of life whenever possible.
The full transcript of his sentencing can be viewed here: