Melendez has worked part-time for HP police for some time, may get hired full-time now
Dent’s atty. demands missing 16 minutes of booking videotape, alleges it shows more “terror”
Wayne Co. Prosecutor hasn’t decided on charging Melendez; feds now involved
Dent was afraid he would be killed at hospital after booking
Inkster supporters say they have been demanding that Robocop be fired for a long time
By Diane Bukowski
April 16, 2015
DETROIT— “Robocop” William Melendez, now notorious for the near fatal-beating of Floyd Dent in Inkster, is working at the Highland Park Police Department, and has been there part-time for several years, reliable sources told VOD today. His actual discharge from the Inkster Police Department for nearly killing retired autoworker Dent Jan. 28 took place at 5 p.m. tonight.
The sources said Melendez may be hired full-time in Highland Park now.
VOD left messages for comment with Highland Park police chief Kevin Coney and his assistant Kamin Bode, then called the Department and asked for William Melendez. The officer at the desk said “he’s not in right now.” Neither Coney nor Bode has returned the calls.
Channel Four’s Kevin Dietz reported that Melendez is on patrol as a traffic cop in Highland Park, fully armed. Highland Park City Attorney Todd Perkins justified Melendez’ continued employment, saying in Dietz’ report that he has not been found guilty of anything yet.
Melendez was actually convicted of filing a false report while with the Detroit Police Department, an event which happened in the 1990’s. (Some local media has reported falsely that that incident caused him to be fired from the DPD. In fact he continued there through at least 2004 and possibly 2009.
He previously worked at DPD beginning in 1993, during which he killed one man, racked up numerous brutality lawsuits, and was federally charged for operating a “Ramparts”-style gang of cops on Detroit’s southwest side. Cops in that case were acquitted in what federal prosecutors called a “nullification verdict.” Their trial was a rare instance of a breakdown in the police “wall of silence,” since numerous Black Detroit officers testified against Melendez et. al.
Meanwhile, Dent’s attorney Gregory Rohl alleged in court April 15 that Inkster police redacted most of a booking videotape after Dent’s arrest, providing him only with a five-minute version that does not show the additional “terror” Dent said he experienced at the station.
“I was advised by an officer that this is incomplete, and that her version is 21 minutes long and she was rather disturbed by what she saw,” Rohl told Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner, in a courtroom packed with Dent’s family and supporters, most from Inkster.
Groner held the hearing over until April 29, pending a review of the complete videotape, but Inkster police chief Vicki Yost later told Channel Four that the department had disclosed everything. Yost was implicated in a civil lawsuit involving the 1996 killing of Lamar Grable, 20, by her partner, three-time killer cop Eugene Brown, in which the jury awarded Grable’s family $4 million.
Dent still faces a charge of crack cocaine possession, which he hoped would be dismissed during the hearing. His attorneys earlier released a dshcam video which appears to show Melendez pulling a baggie of crack cocaine out of his pocket to plant in Dent’s car. However, Assistant Prosecutor Tom Dawson said the office wants “more time” to review the evidence.
Rohl told the media after the hearing, “There is stuff on [that booking videotape] that we want badly. I hope the prosecutor will do the right thing and go after Robocop.”
He was on his way to meet with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to request that criminal charges be brought against Melendez.
Dent said, “I have my fingers crossed that all the right things will happen. When I heard about it, I knew that the video was much longer than five minutes.”
He added, “I am very overwhelmed by all the supporters that have come out for me. It has been a long road for me, with the loss of a lot of sleep, and I’m hoping for the right thing to be done.”
Dent spent three days in Garden City Hospital after the beating, during which he said he feared he would be killed, because his family was not allowed to see him. A woman visiting her son at the hospital contacted his family members for him. (See video below.)
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s chief of communications, Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, told VOD, “The WCPO investigation into Mr. Dent’s allegations is a continuing investigation. When it concludes and a decision is made the press will be notified. We are going to review the video footage to make sure that it is complete. We believe that the defense has all of the video, but we are going back through it to make sure.”
Channel Four reporter Kevin Dietz said on the air that there is now a federal investigation into the Dent beating, with two investigators assigned to the case.
Inkster resident Rev. George Williams, Pres. and CEO of the National Christians in Action, told VOD, “We want to know about the rest of the police officers involved as well. Melendez wasn’t the only one. Our police department has had racial problems for a very long time.”
He was among dozens of supporters who packed the courtroom for Dent.
Father Ellis Clifton, of St. Clements Episcopal Church in Inkster, said, “They need to charge the persons that tased him, and beat and kicked him, as well as everyone else who covered this up. The police department does not represent the make-up of the community of Inkster. They need to assign police with a real connection to us.”
Both Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost and William Melendez had applied for jobs in Romulus, Michigan prior to their hire with the Inkster police, but were turned down, he said.
Other Inkster residents at hearing said they have been demanding that Melendez be removed from the force for several years due to numerous instances of brutality. He had been employed in Inkster since at least 2011.
Crystal Linton, Exec. Secretary of the Inkster chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), said, “We had already gone to City Manager Marsh to ask him to fire Melendez, but he kept saying they had it under control, and would deal with progressive discipline.”
One federal lawsuit is pending which accuses Melendez and other Inkster cops of unlawfully invading the home of a friend of DeShawn Acklin in 2011. The lawsuit then says:
“While Plaintiff [Acklin] was handcuffed and compliant, one of the Defendants began to choke him and beat him until he lost consciousness. Plaintiff was also subsequently maced by one of the Defendants. Plaintiff was arrested and taken to Garden City Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Plaintiff unlawfully remained in Defendants’ custody for approximately three days until he was released without being charged with any crime.” (Click on: Deshawn Acklin v Melendez for full lawsuit.)
Inkster resident Debra Pernell-Simmons, also a member of the Inkster chapter of NAN, and previously Vice-President of the Mississippi chapter, noted that police have been tasing people as a means of torture, not restraint, as they did in the case of Floyd Dent and the recent killing of Walter Scott of North Charleston, S.C. She said she herself was a victim of police brutality in her home state of Mississippi in 2013.
“I was tased multiple times on June 3, 2013, in my thighs, buttocks, leg and crotch, all over, until I fell to the ground, by members of the Natchez, Mississippi Sheriff’s Department,” Simmons said.
NewsOne reported on the protest she was taking part in:
“Pernell-Simmons and members of NAN, the civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, traveled to Natchez on June 3, 2013, to throw full support behind Glennese Smith Scott, 33, a social worker and author of the book, “Surviving A Thousand Deaths,” who is in the midst of an uphill court battle against the Sheriff’s Department for abuse — and negligence — she allegedly suffered at their hands that caused her to miscarry twins.
“While protesting on the sidewalk in front of the Adams County Courthouse, in compliance with a city permit, Pernell-Simmons was told to move. When she refused, she was violently pushed to the ground and held down by two Black deputies, Charles Sims and Walter Mackel, while being Tasered by White deputy, Danny Barber.’
“Don’t forget that some Africans sold us into slavery,” said Williams. “They use our own against us.”
The last reference was to Charles Williams, President of the Michigan chapter of NAN, who had traveled to Mississippi to take part in the protest.
Simmons said that while sheriffs were tasing her, a white Natchez resident ran up with a sawed-off shotgun asking if they needed any help. She said NAN is planning an April 24 protest in Mississippi against the lynching of Otis Byrd of Port Gibson March 2 this year.