DETROIT (WJBK) - William Melendez could spend the next decade in prison. Or he could be acquitted. It all depends on what the jury, who has the trial of the ex-Inkster cop caught on camera beating a man, decides.
Melendez has been on trial for the past few weeks for assault and misconduct in office. He was on camera beating and choking Floyd Dent during a traffic stop in January. On Wednesday, the case went the jury.
Judge Vonda Evans gave jury instructions at 2 p.m. Wednesday and deliberations started an hour later. During Tuesday's procedings, they played the video and audio in court once again and both sides delivered their closing arguments.
Asst. Wayne Co Prosecutor Robert Donaldson said in his closing statements that Melendez beat him because he thought he could away with it.
"If Mr. Dent was some sort of a deranged crackhead he still didn't deserve what happened to him," Donaldson said.
Dent was in a chokehold and punched 16 times in the head during the stop. Melendez was charged with strangulation, assault, and misconduct in office. Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued Dent was not drunk or on drugs and he pulled over and never resisted arrest. The arrest was caught on dashcam video and Donaldson said it speaks for itself.
"You're being asked (by the defense) not to look at the video. I suggest to you that the video tells the story, the entire story,"
Dent testified during the trial that the cocaine found was planted in his car. He said he was trying to block his face from the blows and never tried to get away. But defense Jim Thomas says Dent threatened to kill officers on scene, that he bit Melendez, and struggled even after Melendez stopped hitting him.
"He got hit 16 times in the head and he continued to struggle. And Mr. Melendez descelates, he stops," Thomas said.
The defense also argues Dent was swerving, did not immediately pull over and appeared to reach over into his car - before opening his door.
"He knew not to throw open the door. He knew he had to expose both hands, he said he exposed both hands, you look at the video and see if he had both hands out the door. There's one hand," Thomas said.
Dent's urine screen tested positive for cocaine but hours later, his blood test was negative.
While the defense argues the proof is in the video, the defense says it's not the whole story.
"No misconduct in office. Let this man go home to his wife and kids," Thomas said.
The jury deliberated for an hour and were sent home at 4 p.m. They'll return to continue deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday.