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Inkster police officer's union says his firing is 'political'

Officer shown on video punching man 16 times in head

Officer William Melendez would not answer his door Thursday when Local 4 knocked.
Officer William Melendez would not answer his door Thursday when Local 4 knocked.

INKSTER, Mich. – Officer William Melendez would not answer his door Thursday when Local 4 knocked.

However, across town his union representative was willing to talk. He said Melendez is a victim of the media and politics.

"This happened in January. A report was filed, reviewed by supervisors and nothing was found. So as far as we knew it was found he didn't violate anything," said Al Lewis, of Teamsters Local 214.

Lewis said Melendez wasn't fired from the Inkster Police Department because of his actions, but because of the Local 4 Defenders investigation which showed him hitting Floyd Dent 16 times in the head during a traffic stop.

"When that videotape hit the airwaves, all of the sudden it was a big deal and we were told yesterday that the investigation we though was completed was still in progress, and right after they said that they issued Officer Melendez his discharge papers," said Lewis.

The Inkster police chief said Thursday "the Inkster Police Department's internal investigation is not now, nor has it ever been completed."

"Other than that, the Inkster Police Department does not comment on personnel matters," said Chief Vicki Yost.

Melendez, through his union, said after the video aired on Local 4 residents started holding protest marches in Inkster, calling for him to be fired. He said city politicians got nervous and the city manager, not the police chief, fired him.

"That's why I think it's more political than anything else," said Lewis.

After the incident, Melendez went back to working the streets. He was put on desk duty only after the story broke.

Melendez also was sent to a school to learn how to train other officers in the field, after the incident happened.

Michigan State Police and federal agents continue to investigate this.

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