Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inkster Cops Beat Black Man

So much of how police react to you depends not just on what you do but on you who are. If you are a black man or even a black woman, police are much more likely to see you as a threat to be neutralized than if you are of another race. This is regardless of whether you are actually doing anything wrong. At every point in the justice system black people don't get the benefit of the doubt. A situation that would call for a friendly warning results in snide lectures and tickets. Wallets are mistaken for guns. What would normally require a stern talking to turns into an arrest. A situation that necessitates probation ends up in incarceration. Instead of a ticket you get a beating. A child playing with a toy gun is shot dead. This is a nationwide problem. It's not just Ferguson or the South or in small towns where there is explicit racial hatred far beyond the ordinary. It's not an individual problem but a systemic one. I was recently reminded of this ugly truth when a local retired(?) black man named Floyd Dent, driving through a mostly black city, cruised past a stop sign and was soon after stopped and beaten by city police officers. The police later claimed to have found crack cocaine in Dent's vehicle. This brings to mind Dave Chappelle's skit line of "Sprinkle some crack on him and let's get out of here." Mr. Dent tested negative for drugs. He has no criminal record. He points out that his fingerprints are not on the bag that the police claim to have found in his car. Charges of fleeing and resisting arrest have already been dropped. The drug charges have not been dropped. Dent did have a suspended license. The cop seen punching Mr. Dent in the head had previously been acquitted of, among other things, planting evidence. 

Watch the below video. Make up your own mind. I don't think that the police were defending themselves. They started beating on Dent immediately. This is about hatred, fear and frustration. We can talk about retraining police but the only way to reduce and ultimately stop these incidents is for police to know that they will be imprisoned when found guilty of such actions. That's a very rare occurrence. Otherwise perhaps Cliven Bundy had some good ideas on how to deal with the police?
Fighting back tears, a Detroit man and longtime auto worker with no criminal history, described how Inkster police officers dragged him from his car one night in January, choked him, beat him and tasered him during a traffic stop that was caught on patrol car video. "He was beating me upside the head," Floyd Dent, 57, told a horde of reporters and TV crews during a press conference at his attorney's office Wednesday afternoon, as tears trickled his cheeks. "I was trying to protect my face with my right arm. I heard one of them say, 'tase the M...F. '" 

The Jan. 28 incident was caught on police video cameras and is making national news. It shows Inkster police pulling over Dent in his 2011 tan Cadillac near South River Park Drive and Inkster Drive shortly before 10 p.m. The two officers approach with their guns drawn. As Dent opens the door, they pull him out and shove him to the ground. Dent does not appear in the video to be resisting arrest. As he is on the ground, a police officer later identified as William Melendez has him in a choke hold, and is repeatedly pounding him on his head.  A second officer is attempting to handcuff him behind his back, but Dent has his right arm up, trying to protect his face and head against Melendez.  Another officer arrives and kicks him, and then another officer Tasers Dent in the thigh and stomach as he is handcuffed.  Dent, who has worked for Ford for 37 years, said he was hospitalized for two days for injuries to his face and head.

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UPDATE: Additional video purports to show officer planting drugs.

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