In 2013 officer Tom Webster kicked a suspect in the face, fracturing his jaw. Said suspect was already on the ground at this point.
Webster was found not guilty of second-degree assault yesterday by a 12-member jury in Delaware.
Cpl. Webster, who is white, and another officer, confronted Lateef Dickerson, a black man, in August 2013 after police responded to reports of a fight. Dickerson allegedly fled another officer before Webster stopped him in the street. Dash cam video of the incident was released by the Dover Police Department this year. In the video, Webster and another officer can be seen approaching Dickerson, who puts his hands up. The officers order Dickerson to get on the ground, but just as Dickerson gets on his hands hands and knees, Webster kicks him in the face, knocking him out. Dickerson reportedly suffered a fractured jaw from the incident.
The case went through several hoops to get to the point where Webster stood trial. In 2014, a Grand Jury decided not to indict after an investigation by the Attorney General. According to Dover Police, Webster was reassigned to the patrol division after the department found his actions were outside department policy. In May 2015, new Attorney General Matt Denn brought the case before a Grand Jury for the second time. This time Webster was charged.
Webster testified that it was his intention to strike Dickerson in the upper body, not his head.
“The evidence on tape did not rise to the level that the state thought. The fact of the matter is when you broke it down into milliseconds you could see the gentleman moving his hands up and down, and we all know that Tom was in fear,” Webster’s defence lawyer said after the verdict.
The Dover Police Department will evaluate the case to determine whether Webster will return to work.
Story and editing by Andrew Fowler
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