Detroit-area cop who beat driver 16 times won't testify

AP News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2015 2:01 PM

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area police officer charged with assault in the beating of an unarmed driver declined to testify Thursday as the defense rested and the judge told jurors they'll see the site of the bloody arrest next week.

On the sixth day of trial, William Melendez said he would not testify about why he punched Floyd Dent 16 times in the head during a traffic stop in Inkster that was recorded on dashcam video.

"You cannot hold that against him," Wayne County Judge Vonda Evans told the jury.

Evans said jurors would take a van to the scene Tuesday and hear closing arguments Wednesday.

Melendez is charged with assault and misconduct in office. Other officers and a criminal justice professor said the beating was reasonable because Dent was resisting arrest.

But Vicki Yost, who was Inkster's police chief at the time, said it wasn't necessary, based on the video.

The incident wasn't publicly known for weeks until WDIV-TV aired the video. Inkster fired Melendez and quickly agreed to pay $1.4 million to Dent.

Dent, 58, has a long history of driving violations and was driving with a suspended license, a record that was disclosed during the defense side of the trial Thursday.

"So Mr. Dent's been arrested a number of times. Did he ever get beaten during the arrests?" prosecutor Robert Donaldson asked during cross-examination of a state police lieutenant.

Earlier, the Wayne County medical examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt, said he's satisfied that Dent wasn't using cocaine before the beating, based on a negative blood test processed by state police.

A urine test at the hospital suggested otherwise, a point that defense attorney James Thomas has raised to the jury.

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