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article imageDelaware cop charged with kicking suspect in face; video released

By Megan Hamilton     May 9, 2015 in Crime
Dover - Delaware police released dashboard camera footage of an incident in 2013 that shows an officer allegedly kicking a black man in the face, knocking him out and breaking his jaw.
In March 2014, a grand jury did not indict the officer, Dover Police Cpl. Thomas Webster, and Webster returned to full duty that June, The Washington Post reports.
However, on Monday Webster was arrested on felony second-degree assault charges after a second grand jury reviewed the case. Thursday, Dover police released the dashboard camera video after a federal judge ruled the video was no longer confidential.
After his arrest, Webster was placed on unpaid leave, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Dover police on Dickerson's behalf, Fox News reports.
"We believe that the video demonstrates the need for large-scale reform of the Dover Police Department, specifically improvements to their use of force and internal affairs practices, and supervision of their officers," Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware told Fox News.
"The people of Dover have a right to know about this incident and deserve a dialogue with law enforcement about how they can create a safe and equitable Dover community for all."
After the video was released, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said at a news conference Thursday that the rights of protesters would be honored, but "lawlessness and violence will not be tolerated," The Los Angeles Times reports.
"As the mayor of the city of Dover, we all have to remember that every public employee has the responsibility to protect our community, to serve our constituents with trust and fidelity," he said.
Dickerson was arrested on Aug. 24, 2013, when police were responding to reports of a fight. One person was believed to have a gun.
Webster and another officer can be seen and heard confronting Dickerson and ordering him to get on the ground. As he complies, the video shows Webster kicking him in the face, and Dickerson falls to the ground.
A screenshot from the incident.
A screenshot from the incident.
YouTube screen grab
"As the subject was in the process of getting on the ground, he was kicked in the head once by Webster, rendering him unconscious. After this occurred, the subject was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody," according to a statement issued by police on Monday.
Dickerson said that he was at a gas station purchasing gas when he became involved in a fight. A clerk threatened to call police, and Dickerson and others involved left the station. He was stopped by Webster across the street from the station, the Washington Post reports.
When he was arrested, he was charged with assault, theft, and resisting arrest, but those charges were dropped, the News Journal reports.
In the initial grand jury investigation, Webster wasn't indicted and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Delaware found that Dickerson's civil rights had not been violated, according to police, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Upon completion of the investigations, an internal inquiry by Dover police found that Webster's actions "were outside of Dover Police Department policy,and the department took the appropriate actions," police said.
However, what those actions were isn't clear, the Los Angeles Times reports. During the previous investigations, Webster was suspended with pay.
Webster returned to full duty in June 2014 "and was reassigned to the patrol division," according to the statement by police.
The News Journal reported that Webster was hired by the force in September 2005, and turned himself in Monday after the indictment. He was then charged with second-degree assault and presented to Commissioner Andrea Freud at the Kent County Superior Court, the police statement said.
He was then released on $5,000 unsecured bail.
Webster said that he couldn't discuss the case, the News Journal reports, per the Los Angeles Times.
"I'm under strict instructions not to discuss my life with anyone right now, unfortunately," he said. "We have to let this sort itself out in a legal venue."
In a statement to the News Journal, Webster's attorney, James E. Ligouri had this to say, per the Washington Post:
"Tom Webster and his family are extremely disappointed this matter was again presented to a Kent County Grand Jury since a previous Grand Jury refused to indict Tom."
Webster, Ligouri said, was "defending us" from a "noted gang member." The News Journal reported that Dickerson has a criminal record that includes drug and alcohol convictions.
"The evidence presented before the first Grand Jury and the second Grand Jury hasn't changed," he said. "The atmosphere has changed."
Fox News reports that Attorney General Matt Denn, who took office in January, reviewed the case last week and told prosecutors to present it once again to a grand jury.
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