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Detroit suburb reaches $1.4M settlement in police beating

INKSTER, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit suburb has agreed to settle a lawsuit over excessive force by police for nearly $1.4 million, four months after an officer repeatedly punched a motorist in the head during a traffic stop that was recorded on dash-cam video, an attorney said Thursday.

The settlement emerged on the same day that Floyd Dent testified about his beating in Inkster. A judge must decide whether there’s enough evidence to send William Melendez to trial on assault charges.

“He came to the car, told me get out the car or he’ll kill me,” Dent, 57, said.

“When I went to the ground, he started choking me,” Dent added. “He choked me so hard, I couldn’t breathe. He started beating me on the right side of my head.”

The incident occurred in January but wasn’t known about publicly until WDIV-TV aired the video weeks later.

Melendez was fired but denies any wrongdoing. Defense attorney James Thomas suggested that unusual force might have been necessary because there was a warrant for Dent’s arrest.

“Isn’t it true the reason why you struggled and fought is you didn’t want to be arrested again? … Isn’t it true you struggled because you knew there was cocaine in the car?” Thomas asked during cross-examination.

Dent, who acknowledged earlier that he was wanted for driving on a suspended license, replied no.

He denied possessing or using drugs that day and has accused police of planting cocaine in his car during the arrest.

A urine test at a hospital indicated drug use, but a blood sample tested by state police was negative, prosecutor Robert Donaldson said.

Separately, Inkster reached a $1.37 million settlement in a civil lawsuit alleging excessive force, said Nicholas Bennett, an attorney for Dent. He said the deal just needs a signature from a Wayne County judge.

“It will give Floyd some money while he’s trying to get back on his feet,” Bennett said. “Floyd said he’d give it all up if this didn’t happen to him.”

Inkster Mayor Hilliard Hampton told The Detroit News: “The city wants to put this behind us.”

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap .

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