Suspect kicked in face by Delaware police officer [video]

Dover police released dashcam video of a white police officer kicking a black man in the face.

The video shows the arrest of Lateef Dickerson on August 24, 2013, by Dover Cpl. Tom Webster IV. It shows Dickerson complying with police commands to get on the ground. With Dickerson on his hands and knees, Webster is seen kicking the suspect in the face. Police said Dickerson was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken jaw.

Webster was charged with assault this week. He is on unpaid leave.

How we got here

The Dover Police Department released the 2013 video on Thursday, after a federal judge ruled it was no longer considered confidential. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of 30-year-old Dickerson. Police held a news conference Thursday afternoon, following the dashcam video’s release. 

“We have a great relationship with our community. I think this is an isolated incident. We did our due diligence as far as following up investigating it, turning it over to the proper authorities to ensure that accountability was there,” Lt. Jason Pires said.

According to a statement on the department’s website, Dover police launched an investigation following the incident. In November 2013, Webster was placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation and review of the case by the Delaware attorney general’s office. 

A grand jury did not return an indictment against Webster last March. At that time the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware also reviewed the case and found that there was not a civil rights violation. Webster returned to duty last summer and was reassigned to the patrol division.

“On May 4, 2015, the Dover Police Department learned that the Delaware Attorney General’s office took this case before a second grand jury which indicted Cpl. Webster on the charge of Assault 2nd degree. Upon being notified of the indictment the Dover Police Department immediately placed Webster on leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case,” the statement read. 

Webster turned himself in on May 4 and was released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

“Transparency has always been a priority of the city of Dover and the Dover Police Department,” said Mayor Robin Christiansen, during the news conference. “While this incident is currently being handled in the court system, these actions do not reflect the attitudes or beliefs of the mayor and council, the chief of police, nor the men and women of the Dover Police Department.”

This news comes on the heels of the Baltimore riots and several deadly police-involved shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

“I assure all of our citizens that their First Amendment rights to protest will be honored, but I must assure the members of our community that lawlessness and violence will not be tolerated,” Christiansen said.

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