The Dover Police Department released video footage of a violent arrest after Corporal Thomas Webster was indicted on assault charges and a federal judge ruled the footage no longer confidential.
The dash cam footage, made public this past Thursday, shows a white police officer, Webster, using unnecessary force while arresting a black suspect, Lateef Dickerson, on August 24th, 2013. Webster can clearly be seen kicking Dickerson in the face as the suspect kneeled down on the ground, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with a broken jaw. The injuries were so severe he had to be hospitalized.
Police say that Webster initially received a call to break up a fight near a gas station. He was warned over the radio that the suspect, a man in a yellow shirt, had a gun. It’s understandable why he might have been on the edge, however Dickerson was wearing a white shirt and yellow hat at the time.
It is important to note that Dickerson did not resist arrest or show any kind of hostile behavior towards the police officer.
Webster and another officer had Dickerson at gun point the moment they got out of the car and started abusing him verbally well before they approached him.
Dickerson was later confirmed to have a long criminal history involving expired tags and possession of firearms.
Robin Christiansen, Dover Mayor, showed concern saying during a press conference that she intends for the protesters’ rights to honored, but that she will not tolerate “lawlessness and violence”.
The incident serves as yet another example in an alarming pattern of police brutality that has plagued the U.S. in recent years, particularly brutality towards black minorities.
Even now there are protests across the country, with many concerned citizens asking for justice for the deaths of unarmed black men killed by white police officers in several of our cities – Baltimore, New York and North Charleston, South Carolina.
As a result of his actions, Webster was put on paid administrative leave in November 2013, pending an internal investigation conducted by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.
He first went before a grand jury in March 2014, but was not indicted and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office agreed there were no civil rights violations.
The Dover Police Department conducted its own internal investigation and concluded that Webster’s actions were outside their policy.
The officer returned to full duty with the Dover Police Department in June 2014 and was reassigned to his old patrol division.
On May 4, 2015, the Dover Police Department were informed that the Delaware Attorney General’s Office took Webster’s case before a second grand jury that charged him with second degree assault and the Dover Police Department put Webster on unpaid leave.
Although police brutally towards minorities seem to be on the rise, Fred Calhoun, president of the Delaware’s police union, believes that authorities are taking unnecessary actions, trying to make an example out of Webster due to current fragility of the social environment.
Webster himself refused to comment on the subject, telling News Journal that he is under strict conditions not to speak to anyone about his life for the time being.
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