Citizens of Inskster, a small town located outside of Detroit, are furious and want two white police officers who viciously beat a Black man during a traffic stop to be fired—or they plan to lead an insurrection in the city.
A dashcam video from the bloody January arrest of Floyd Dent, 57, was broadcast on Detroit TV station WDIV Tuesday, sparking outrage and a protest the next day demanding answers why the offending officers have not be reprimanded.
One officer is shown punching Dent as many as 16 times in the head as he is on the ground while the other tries to handcuff him. Another officer then uses a taser on him.
The Rev. Charles Williams II and about 50 protesters Wednesday marched to the police station, where they blocked the door. Chief Vicki Yost met them outside and said Michigan state police would investigate the arrest.
“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.”
Williams, who said the video “made me sick,” promised more, vigorous protests if the officers are not terminated.
“We will shut Inkster down until we get justice,” Williams said.
Inkster has the potential to explode into a Ferguson, Missouri scenario, where mostly peaceful protests have been ongoing in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of officer Darren Wilson. It is a town of about 20,000 made up of 75 percent Black residents with a police force that is largely white.
WDIV said Dent faces a drug charge, but fleeing and resisting police charges have been dismissed. Dent claims the officers planted crack cocaine in his car.
“I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me,” Dent told WDIV, with tears streaming down his face. “I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.”’
Those words were the same ones Eric Garner mustered as he was choked to death by a Staten Island police officer, one of a disturbing series of cases where Black men have been killed by white officers.
Michigan State Police are investigating Dent’s incident, Lt. Michael Shaw said.
“We have been asked by the Inkster police to conduct an investigation,” he said Tuesday. “We are in the process of doing that now. Once it is completed, we will forward the results to the Wayne County prosecutor for their review.”
One of the officers involved in the incident was placed on administrative duty; the other officer remains on duty, Yost said. She declined to identify the officers Wednesday, according to the Detroit News. State police troopers also responded to Inkster officers’ call for backup, said Shaw.
“It’s an ongoing investigation and we’re waiting for the results of the investigation,” Yost said. “We’re not scared of the facts. We’ll follow them wherever they go and we’ll take the appropriate action.”
The incident, which was captured by a police in-car camera, came to light this week when Dent’s attorney released it to the media.
Dent, a Detroit resident, was pulled over after officers observed him driving through an area of high drug activity, said Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl.
“He’s physically extracted from the vehicle, he’s thrown to the ground and he’s pummeled by no fewer than 16 head shots, three kicks and four Tasers, implemented by various officers,” Rohl said.
Rohl said the video shows that 2.3 seconds elapsed from the time Dent was pulled from the car and when he was first hit in the head.