Local 4 Defenders: Violent traffic stop in Inkster caught on camera
INKSTER, Mich. – Video obtained exclusively by the Local 4 Defenders shows an African-American motorist being beaten by white police officers from the city of Inkster.
The primary officer involved says he was protecting himself. The motorist said he did nothing wrong and feared he might lose his life.
According to police reports and court testimony, the officers pulled over 57-year-old Floyd Dent in his Cadillac for a traffic violation.
The video shows Dent pulling over to the side and opening his car door. The situation escalates to the point that officers pull Dent out of his car and lay him face down on the ground.
According to police reports, Dent was put in a chokehold and hit 16 times in the head. The second officer struggles to handcuff Dent and a third officer uses a Taser three times on Dent.
Several Michigan State Police officers respond to the scene, too.
Dent said he doesn't know why he was pulled over or why he was beaten.
"The next thing I know, the officer runs up to me with his gun, you know, talking about blowing my head off," Dent said. "Then he grabbed me out of the car and started beating on me, you know. I just couldn't believe it."
Police said they first saw Dent's car through binoculars while watching an area known to have drug activity. They followed Dent's car and said he didn't make a complete stop at a stop sign. Police said that when they turned on their flashing lights, Dent didn't immediately pull over.
"When the overhead lights came on, I looked and said, ‘Wow, are they stopping me?'" Dent said. "So I just kept going until I realized that they were really stopping me."
Dent said he didn't try to flee police, and the video shows his Cadillac driving at a consistent speed until he pulled over.
"I had pulled over and opened my car door. I had my hands out," Dent said.
Police said they ordered Dent to put his hands up, but they could only see one. Police said Dent yelled, "I'll kill you," at the officers.
Dent's attorney, Greg Rohl, said there's no audio of the alleged threat.
"You have six responding vehicles. Not one officer is equipped with a microphone to take down this alleged threat," Rohl said.
Police said Dent refused to put his hands behind his back. Dent said he thought he was being choked to death and tried to pull the officers' arms away from his throat. One of the officers said Dent bit him on the arm, and that's why he started punching Dent. Police said the force was needed to restrain Dent.
The officer who said he was bit did not seek medical attention or photograph the bite marks.
"I'm lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me. I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can't breathe,'" Dent said.
Dent was not armed, but was driving on a suspended license. Police said they found a bag of crack cocaine under the passenger's seat, but Dent said it was planted.
Dent, who retired from Ford Motor Co. after 37 years, has no criminal record. Dent said a blood test revealed he didn't have any drugs in his system.
"I don't have to sell drugs. I don't sell drugs," Dent said.
One of the officers from the video was with the Detroit Police Department in 2003 and was charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office for planting evidence and falsifying reports. However, a jury found the officer not guilty.
Dent's attorney said it concerns him that three officers who made contact with Dent, and seven more who arrived as backup are white.
"In this type of climate, it's just remarkable that these types of things still go on. It's amazing. It amazes me. It's shocking and disturbing," Rohl said.
A judge looked at the video and dismissed multiple charges, saying there was no evidence that Dent was fleeing police, resisting police or that Dent was assaulted by any police officers.
Dent is still facing possession of cocaine charges. He was offered a plea deal that included probation and expunging his record after six months, but he turned it down. He said he won't plead guilty to something he didn't do.
The Michigan State Police are investigating the incident.
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