The Inkster police officer who came under fire for punching Detroit resident Floyd Dent during a January arrest has been fired.
A union representative, Al Lewis, from Teamsters Local 214, has confirmed to the Detroit News that officer William Melendez has been let go by the department after an initial five day suspension.
“The supervisor on the shift did his investigation and evidently found nothing wrong because Officer Melendez was on the road for another six weeks after that,” Lewis said to the News. “It wasn’t until Dent got an attorney and all of the sudden the video is on TV that they decided to fire this guy.”
The police have stuck with the story that Dent continued to ignore stop signs, refused to pull over, and then resisted arrest and threatened them. Police also said crack cocaine was found in the car. Dent has stood by his story that the drugs were planted, he was beaten, Tasered and put into a chokehold during the arrest.
Video of what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop has sparked national outrage, calling for the disbandment of the department. Melendez is identified in an Inkster police report as one of the officers who arrested the 57-year-old Dent.
Attorneys for Dent claim that their client was racially profiled and officers used excessive force. The video was released by Dent’s attorney Greg Rohl. Melendez said on Thursday to WXYZ Channel 7 that he has been unable to share his side of the story while employed by the Inkster police department.
Lewis said he believes the decision to fire Melendez has been influenced by the plethora of incidents nationwide involving police involving police brutality. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Inkster at demonstrations calling for Melendez’s dismissal.
“They’re in a tough spot. I don’t say it was an easy decision, but they made the politically expedient decision,” Lewis said. “Whether it’s right or not is another story.”
In the meantime, Melendez remains employed as a part-time officer in Highland Park.
“There are two sides to every story, and so far, the public has only seen one side because at the time I was unable to discuss that,” Melendez said. “I am fired from the Inkster Police Department, therefore I no longer fall under their general orders or their policies and procedures. His attorney has a job to do. He has a job to one, clear his client, and two, to obtain … money for his client.”
Zack Burgess is an award winning journalist. He is the Director/Owner of OFF WOODWARD MEDIA, LLC, where he works as a writer, editor and communications specialist. His work can be seen at zackburgess.com. Twitter: @zackburgess1