Wayne (Michigan) Circuit Court judge Vonda Evans left no doubt how she felt about former Inkster, Michigan, officer William Melendez when she gave a nearly 30-minute speech at his sentencing on Tuesday (February 2).
Melendez, whom the press dubbed “RoboCop,” was convicted in November on charges of misconduct in office and assault with intent to do great bodily harm for the January 28, 2015, beating of Floyd Dent. Melendez pulled over the 58-year-old Black man for an alleged traffic violation, then put Dent in a chokehold and punched him in the head 16 times. Other officers joined in to beat and Taser the man—in full view of the dashcam.
Dent was charged with driving on a suspended license, assaulting or resisting a police officer and cocaine possession, which he maintains was planted by the officers. All of the charges were dropped and Dent settled with the city for $1.4 million. Melendez was fired, two other officers were suspended and the police chief resigned.
On Tuesday, Evans presided over Melendez’s sentencing hearing. She sentenced him to 13 months to 10 years in prison and then talked at length about the role racism has played in the case.
The one image [from this trial] that stuck out to the court was looking at Mr. Dent in his cell, shaking his head in disbelief of what had occurred to him. If his conduct was indicative of what he was thinking, I would have thought this: “What crime did I commit, being a Black man in a Cadillac, stopped for a minor traffic offense by a group of racist police officers looking to do a nigger?”
She also talked about how Dent heard the officers joking about his beating while they wiped his blood from their uniforms, and quoted a text message exchange Melendez had with another officer after the beating:
Melendez: “At least give me the satisfaction of knowing you’re out there beating up niggers right now.”
Zieleniewski: “Lol, just got done with one.”
Evans also talked about the culture of law enforcement that breeds a subsection of poorly trained officers who are more interested in exerting control over citizens than protecting and serving them.
Watch the sentencing video from local station WJBK above. Evans’ speech starts at 4:05:44.
(H/t Yahoo News)