Inkster Police Officer Convicted and Sentenced To Prison For Beating Black Man

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Police Officer William Melendez

This week Michigan Police Officer William Melendez was sentenced to 13 months to 10 years for the January 2015 beating arrest of Floyd Dent—who was dragged from his car, placed in a chokehold and punched repeatedly in the head, in the city of Inkster.

Officer Melendez was convicted, in November, on two felony counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and misconduct in office.

The conviction of Officer Melendez was a welcomed judgement, although he deserves a lot more than 13 months. But until White officers are also convicted whenever they brutalize and kill Black people, will fundamental change really occur in America’s police departments?

At his sentencing hearing, Detroit Judge Vonda Evans, and African-American, excoriated Officer Melendez’s conduct—and put herself in the shoes of Mr. Dent. "The one image [from this trial] that stood out to the court was looking at Mr. Dent in his cell, shaking his head in disbelief of what had occurred to him," Evans said.

“If his conduct was indicative of what he was thinking, I would have thought this: 'What crime did I commit, being a black man in a Cadillac, stopped for a minor traffic offense by a group of racist police officers looking to do a nigger?’”

Judge Evans comments were informed by the fact that she was aware of some racist text messages that Officer Melendez exchanged with his police partner John Zieleniewski. In one text message, Melendez joked to Zieleniewski "At least give me the satisfaction of knowing you're out there beating up niggers right now." Zieleniewski responded "[Lol], just got done with one."

That message was reportedly sent in March after the beating—which occurred on January 28.

During the sentencing, Officer Melendez gave an apology statement to Mr. Dent. “To Mr. Dent and his family, I am truly sorry that this has caused undue hardships in your personal life,” Melendez said. “And if you have any animosity towards law enforcement that was not my intention.”

Are we to believe Officer Melendez is “truly” sorry for beating Mr. Dent? Or is he just “truly” sorry that he got caught? And the “animosity” African-Americans feel toward law enforcement is justified not only by the actions of officers like Melendez but by a corrupt cop culture that then protects those officers.

Officer Melendez’s beating of Mr. Dent was captured on dash-cam video—and is the only reason why some semblance of justice will be served in this case. Several other officers, including Officer Zieleniewski, witnessed the beating. Mr. Dent was beaten until he was bloody—and none of the responding officers made any attempt to stop Melendez’s assault.

Back at their station house, these upstanding officers then made jokes at Mr. Dent’s expense as they cleaned their uniforms, of his blood, with disinfectant. These officers no doubt assisted Melendez in covering up his crimes. Is anything being done to reprimand those officers?

Let’s not forget that drugs were obviously planted to bolster the false charges that were filed against Mr. Dent. This leads to several questions. Do you remember how Officer Michael Slager, the murderer of Walter Scott, was videotaped planting a Taser near the body of Scott to enhance his cover-story?

So, whose idea was it to plant the drugs? How often is this nefarious practice performed by officers seeking to justify their lies when they wrongfully arrest Black people? In a case like this, where other officers conspired to aid-and-abet the criminal conduct of this cop, shouldn’t they be disciplined too?If other officers aren’t punished when they engage in covering up the crimes of other cops, how will the Blue Wall of Silence ever be smashed, as it should be? The culture of cops is built on a corrupt “no snitching” policy against other cops who abuse power. Yet, aren’t police the very people who pressure “perps” to confess to their crimes?

According to these lying officers, they decided to pull Mr. Dent—who was driving a Cadillac—over because they had seen him while watching a known area of “drug activity,” and because he, supposedly, didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign, and didn’t immediately pull over when they flashed their lights.

Since these cops were patrolling a majority Black neighborhood—and since Inkster is around 75 percent Black—then this excuse means any Black area can be described as a known area of “drug activity.” We should be clear by now that police policy-makers are deeply invested in criminalizing the Black community. This is part of the reason why they over-police Black people—and why they arrest us for things, like the minor possession of drugs, which White people usually get away with.

The other excuses about stopping Dent for not coming to a complete stop and such should remind us of what happened to Sandra Bland—who was pulled over by Texas State Trooper Brian Encina. This trooper, who was the killer of Bland, directly or indirectly, said he pulled her over because she failed to signal a “lane change.” But we know the real reason is because he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop and harass a Black woman—so, he could flex his police power and fell like a big man.

However you slice it, this officer is the reason why Sandra Bland now rests in the cemetery. But Encina has only been charged with perjury for causing the death of this Black woman. Where is the justice in their “justice” system?

Likewise, the real reason Officer Martinez and Officer Zieleniewski stopped Mr. Dent is that they saw a Black man driving a Cadillac. A Black man driving a nice car has always been reason enough for racist police to stop a Black man.

Years ago, Johnny Cochran, who successfully defended O.J Simpson, told a shocking story of being pulled over at gunpoint by police, because he was driving a Rolls Royce down Sunset Boulevard on a Saturday—an incident, he says traumatized his two daughters who were in the car.

At the time, in 1979, Cochran was an assistant district attorney in California. In fact, the only reason Cochran may not have been arrested, or worse killed, was because when the officers searched the car they found his district attorney’s badge.

Mr. Dent driving a Cadillac was no doubt a signal to these racist officers that they had someone who was either a Black drug dealer, or someone who they could label as such—the thought never occurred to them that this Black man had worked for years at the Ford Motor Company. These officers most likely concluded that planting cocaine would fit their narrative nicely: that this Black man driving improperly in an area of “drug activity” was indeed another Black drug dealer.

Sadly, if the circumstances were different, Officer Melendez would have gotten away with his crimes. Indeed, how many instances are there where officers are getting away with similar criminal conduct that we just don’t know of? Isn’t it safe to assume that cases like this only represent the tip of the iceberg?

Unfortunately, in spite of story after story and case after case of police misconduct and murder, this serious issue has gotten no consideration from Congress. Several weeks ago, Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush started pushing for a “Benghazi-type panel” to address police brutality and misconduct against African-Americans.

So far, Congressman Rush has gained minimal support for his efforts—only a few members of the Congressional Black Caucus have signed on. Our “progressive” White “liberal” “friends” can’t seem to find their voices. Why?


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