CREDIT: Screenshot WDIV
The police officer caught on tape brutally beating an unarmed Michigan man goes by the name “Robocop.” He’s been sued “at least four times for excessive use of force, cost the city more than $1 million in legal settlements and received more citizen complaints than any other in the city,” according to an LA Times 2003 report. One million-dollar payout was over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man during a traffic stop in 1996. And he faced federal corruption charges but was later acquitted for a three-year corruption campaign that included false accusations of drug possession very similar to those against Floyd Dent.
In a tape released this week, William “Robocop” Melendez, is captured on video dragging an unarmed Dent out of his car, pinning him to the ground in a chokehold, and, along with several other cops, striking him and Tasing him repeatedly as he lay bloody.
Thus far, Melendez has managed to retain a job as a police officer in Michigan. But not without many pockmarks on his record that call into question charges against those like Dent, the victim of the most recent beating. Officers said they first pulled Dent over in Inkster, Michigan, in January for not making a complete stop in an area “known to have drug activity.” He was then charged with resisting arrest, assault, and possession of cocaine after officers dragged him out of the car and say they found a bag of cocaine. And while the charges for resisting arrest and assault were summarily thrown out after the judge saw the video, Dent is still facing the drug possession charge.
Dent, who has worked at Ford for 37 years and has no criminal history, says the bag of crack cocaine officers was planted on him. A new video released Thursday morning appears to even show Melendez pulling a plastic bag out of his pocket during the incident, although it’s difficult to discern.
And Melendez has been accused of of planting false evidence on suspects and falsifying evidence many times before, including by federal prosecutors in a major 2003 indictment. At the time of the indictment against Melendez and 16 other Detroit police officers in 2003, federal prosecutors found that drug and weapons charges against individuals who sat in jail for months were exaggerated or falsified. They found that Melendez led the ring of 17 officers in engaging in corrupt policing that included planting guns and crack cocaine on suspects. In one alleged incident, Melendez and his fellow officers were found to have illegally arrested Victoria Tillmon outside her home after falsely claiming that she dropped a vial of crack-cocaine. In another, prosecutors said Melendez and others unlawfully entered a couple’s home after false reports that they were found on the street carrying crack cocaine. Melendez was even charged with possession of a stolen firearm and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.
CREDIT: Screenshot from www.davidleelaw.com
Melendez and his fellow officers were never convicted on the federal corruption charges, however. Jurors who spoke to the Detroit News said their reason for acquitting the officers was that they didn’t believe the government witnesses because they had criminal records of their own, and thus retained reasonable doubt about whether the cops were guilty. They conceded that officers likely made mistakes, but that they didn’t warrant a criminal conviction. “We thought they were police officers doing their jobs,” one juror told the Detroit News. Melendez, who had been suspended while the trial was ongoing, called the verdict a “great day for law enforcement.”