(Reuters) - A convicted suburban Detroit police officer should be allowed to serve part of his prison term in a boot camp, an appeals court has ruled, overturning a judge’s decision in sentencing him for beating a black motorist at a traffic stop.
William Melendez, a white officer jailed since his conviction last Nov. 19, was sentenced in February to 13 months to 10 years in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 13 months.
The Michigan appeals court decision on Thursday would allow Melendez to serve part of the sentence at a boot camp facility, where prisoners participate in military-style exercises and work assignments for 90 days before moving to a halfway house.
The case was one of several that have been given widespread media attention in the United States in the past few years involving white police officers and African-Americans, fueling a national debate on race and policing.
Melendez, who was in the Inkster, Michigan police force, was video recorded in January 2015 by a police dashboard camera placing autoworker Floyd Dent in a chokehold and punching him in the head several times.
“We argued at his sentencing that he should serve far more than what he was given, and this decision adds insult to injury - literally,” Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement on Friday.
An attorney for Melendez did not return a call seeking comment. Melendez is appealing his conviction for assault and misconduct in office.
Dent said he suffered memory loss and other damage from the beating. He testified at the trial that he had feared for his life and had begged for Melendez to stop. Last year, he reached a $1.4 million settlement in a civil lawsuit against the city of Inkster, which has a majority black population but a majority white police force.
Reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool