Mich. man says he was racially profiled, assaulted during traffic stop

Floyd Dent and the police officers in Inkster, Michigan, who stopped him in January agree that he was pulled over in a traffic stop, that Dent is African-American and the officer who bloodied and then arrested him that night is white.

But that’s about all that Dent, a 57-year-old veteran automotive worker with no previous arrest record, and William Melendez, the arresting officer, agree on concerning the night of January 28,.

Dent alleges he was racially profiled and assaulted during the traffic stop.

“He went crazy on me,” Dent said. “I just couldn’t believe it — I said, what is wrong with this guy? The whole time he was hitting me, I was just trying to protect my face.”

But the officer, Melendez, wrote in his police report that he and his partner, an auxiliary officer in the Detroit suburb, had been following Dent after they witnessed him stop at a hotel known for drug deals. They pulled Dent over after he ran a stop sign, according to the police report.

Melendez wrote that as he approached the car, Dent kept his hands from view, looked at him “with a blank stare as if on a form of narcotic,” and said, “I’ll kill you.” In the altercation that ensued, Melendez hit Dent “several times with a closed right fist” after Dent bit him on his arm, according to the police report.

Dent was charged with drug possession, assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, though the assault and resisting charges were subsequently dropped, according to court documents. He is scheduled for a court appearance Wednesday on the drug charge — possession of crack cocaine — to which he has pleaded not guilty. Dent and his attorney, Greg Rohl, contend the bag of crack cocaine that led to the charge was planted in Dent’s car during the arrest.

“My client’s fingerprints will not be on that bag,” Rohl told CNN affiliate WDIV.

Dashcam video from the police car, first aired last week by WDIV, showed the traffic stop quickly turning violent when Melendez approaches the car, his gun drawn, and the driver’s side door opens.

Immediately, Melendez swings his gun up, pointing it at Dent. Melendez wrote in his report that he approached Dent telling him to show his hands.

A second officer, identified in the police report as auxiliary Officer J. Zieleniewski, then pulls Dent from the car, the video shows, bringing him to the ground.

Melendez gets on top of Dent and grabs him around the neck.

According to the report, that’s when Dent assaulted the officer: “[Dent] then with his teeth bit down on [Melendez’s] left forearm.”

“In fear of being bitten again,” Melendez wrote in the report, he hit him several times.

In an interview with CNN, Dent and his attorney denied several of the details in Melendez’s account.

He only opened his door to show the officer his hands, Dent said. He also denied the statement in Melendez’s report that he had stopped at the hotel known for drug sales.

He never threatened to kill the officer, never bit him, Dent said.

CNN attempted to reach Melendez several times by phone and email, and through the police union, with no response. Melendez has been placed on administrative leave while his own department and the Michigan State Police investigate the incident.

“We started this investigation, we’re not hiding from it, and we’ll follow the facts accordingly,” Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost said last week at a news conference attended by community leaders and a group of residents there to protest the arrest.

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