In a stunning development, the attorney for the man viciously beaten by Michigan police in an incident that was captured on video claims that video also shows the cop pulling a bag of drugs from his pocket to plant in the man’s car.
Not only is the officer, William Melendez, who goes by the unsettling nickname of “Robocop” because fellow officers say he is built like the Hulk, caught on video pulling 57-year-old Floyd Dent from his car and beating him, but Melendez has been accused of planting false evidence on suspects many times before—including by federal prosecutors in a 2003 indictment.
Federal prosecutors charged him with being the leader of a ring of 17 officers in Detroit who engaged in corrupt policing that included planting guns and crack cocaine on suspects. Not only that, Melendez has been sued at least four times for excessive use of force, he cost the city of Detroit more than $1 million in legal settlements—including a one-million dollar payout after killing an unarmed man during a 1996 traffic stop by shooting him 11 times—and received more citizen complaints than any other officer in the city, according to a 2003 story in the LA Times.
The charges Melendez has racked up during his career are so outrageous and extreme that it’s shocking he still has a job as a police officer in the state of Michigan. After he was fired by the Detroit Police Department for falsifying evidence, he found a home in Inkster, a suburb of Detroit with a population of 20,000 mostly Black residents patrolled by an overwhelmingly white force—the same equation seen in Ferguson. Melendez’s antics were even highlighted in a profile in the Detroit News—but still he got hired. The fact that officials in Inkster hired Melendez shows how little regard for the safety of the town’s residents law enforcement officials truly have.
Judging by his history and his actions in the video, the muscle-bound, tattooed Melendez appears to be a Black man’s worst nightmare.
Although African-American defendants have frequently claimed they’ve been framed by police for drug possession, it’s exceedingly rare to get that framing captured on video.
Dent, a grandfather and 37-year veteran employee of Ford Motor Company, said he’s never touched crack cocaine in his life—and took a hospital test that January night which proved there were no drugs in his system.
After being punched in the head 16 times by the muscle-bound “Robocop” and being tasered several times and choked until he thought he was going to die, Dent was charged with threatening and assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and possession of crack cocaine. The charges for threatening and assaulting an officer and resisting arrest were thrown out as soon as the video surfaced, but Dent is still being charged with drug possession.
Dent told the media he could actually see Melendez take the drugs from his pocket while he was sitting in the back of the squad car while police were searching his vehicle.
“We have on video this officer searching the car and testifying allegedly, ‘Oh I found it under the passenger seat.’ Of course my client’s fingerprints will not be on that bag— we all know that,” said Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl. “And all of a sudden you see Robocop reaching into his pocket and you can see him pull out a baggie. He’s got a baggie of rocks—where did that come from? Come on.”
Melendez was able to escape conviction on the federal charges 12 years ago because the jurors said they didn’t believe the government witnesses who had criminal records of their own. Several Black officers testified against Melendez and his crew, but one of the jurors told the Detroit News after the trial, “We thought they were police officers doing their jobs.”
Melendez, who had been suspended during the trial, called the verdict a “great day for law enforcement.”