DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Monday that now-former Inkster police officer William Melendez has been charged with one count of assault to do great bodily harm after the beating of Floyd Dent in a January arrest.
The previous charges against Dent have been dismissed, Worthy said.
Melendez is also charged with mistreatment of a prisoner and misconduct in office. Local 4 Defenders released a video Sunday that showed officers stripping Dent and searching him while he was being held in jail.
Assault to do great bodily harm is a 10-year felony, while mistreatment of a prisoner and misconduct in office are each five-year felonies.
"It's important to note that this office first heard of this case on March the 23rd of 2015 even though it occurred on January the 28th. We found out about it as many of you did from the news reports from WDIV reporter Kevin Dietz," said Worthy.
Melendez was fired from the Inkster Police Department after a dash cam video showed him punching Dent 16 times while putting him in a choke hold during the arrest.
The officer is currently employed as a part-time officer in Highland Park. Highland Park Police Chief Kevin Coney says that Melendez hasn't been used since January and won't be used, though he is still a member of the department.
"(Melendez) shall not return to any role or have any active role within the police department, pending the outcome of the recently charged case," said Coney in a statement. "In effect, Mr. Melendez will not be working on the streets of Highland Park or in the capacity of a police officer on behalf of the City of Highland Park. This official statement is being provided to ebb any concerns that our citizens, residents or the general public may have in regards to Mr. Melendez working in the capacity of law enforcement for the City."
Dent was facing drug charges after police say they found crack cocaine in his car at the time of the beating. Dent maintained that the officers had planted the evidence in his car and had no drugs in his system following the incident.
"I would like to thank Prosecutor Kym Worthy for her courage and conviction in taking on and charging Robo Cop," Dent said at a press conference, referring to the charges against Melendez. "I would like to thank Detective Sargent Powell for her complete and thorough investigation of this matter. I would like to thank my legal team, who always kept me confident that the legal process would work for me...Thank you Kevin Dietz and Channel 4 for their investigation and honest reporting. Finally, I would like to specially thank Marlene for having the courage to make the phone call that night that changed everything."
Video: Floyd Dent news conference
Dent said that Marlene was a woman who helped him when he was taken to the hospital after the beating. He said police weren't going to let him make a phone call, but he got her attention and she called her family for him. He said she was at the hospital for her son at the time.
Dent's attorney said that phone call alerted the family and their legal team that Dent was in the hospital.
"She alerted the family, who alerted us, who got out there and found him essentially chained to a bed," Dent's attorney said.
Worthy said that without video released by Local 4 Defenders, she probably never would have known about the beating or this case.
Inkster City Manager Richard March released the following statement about Worthy's decision:
"I terminated Officer Melendez's employment with the Inkster Police Department April 15, which I and others believe was in the best interest of our community. We acknowledge Prosecutor Worthy's charging decision and will cooperate with the Prosecutor as requested.
In order to preserve the integrity of both the criminal and the civil actions surrounding Officer Melendez's employment, both of which are now active and ongoing, we have no further comment at this time on Prosecutor Worthy's decision or our own."