The march in Inkster came a day after TV station WDIV aired police dashcam video of the Jan. 28 arrest of Floyd Dent, 57. In it, an officer punches Dent many times in the head while another officer tries to handcuff the motorist, who is on the ground. Dent’s face and shirt were bloodied.
Police say Dent disregarded stop signs and refused to pull over, then resisted arrest and threatened them. They also say they found a bag of crack cocaine in his car.
Dent, who said he spent three days in the hospital with broken ribs, blood on his brain and other injuries, told reporters at a news conference that he was defending himself as an officer was “nearly choking me to death.”
“I wasn’t resisting arrest,” he said. “When someone is beating your face, you’re going to protect yourself.”
Hours earlier, Rev. Charles Williams II and about 50 protesters were told to leave the police department because they were blocking the door. Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost met them outside and said Michigan State Police would investigate the arrest. She told The Associated Press the department also was conducting an internal probe.
“I understand your concern,” Yost told Williams. “Again, we’re going to let the investigation play out. … We’re going to act accordingly. We’re not hiding from this.”
Both Dent and Williams say the officers should be fired. Yost told The Associated Press that one is on “administrative duty” but declined to elaborate.
“We will shut Inkster down until we get justice,” said Williams, who added that the video “made me sick.”
In the police report released by defense attorney Greg Rohl, Inkster officer William Melendez wrote that he was patrolling for “narcotics activity” when he saw Dent’s Cadillac pull into a hotel parking lot. He wrote that Dent went into a hotel room for a few minutes, came out and pulled away.
Melendez said in the report that he turned on his lights after Dent failed to use a proper turn signal and disregarded a stop sign. He said Dent failed to stop for some distance. When Dent pulled over, Melendez said he approached the car with his weapon out and raised it when he thought Dent, who was unarmed, was reaching for a weapon.
An auxiliary officer pulled Dent to the ground and Melendez put the motorist in a hold and punched him in the face after Melendez said Dent bit him on the arm; Dent denies biting Melendez. Another officer used a stun gun three times to subdue Dent, the report said.
A judge has dismissed charges of fleeing and resisting police, but Dent still faces a drug charge. He says he was visiting a friend, and that the officers planted the drugs in his car. He also said he was tested at the hospital and was “clean” of alcohol or drugs.
In 2004, Melendez and seven other Detroit officers were acquitted of lying, falsifying reports and planting evidence. Federal prosecutors had accused him and another officer of being the “masterminds” of a conspiracy to “run roughshod over the civil rights of the victims.”
Inkster, population 25,000, is 73 percent black.