Thomas Webster was seen on video kicking a black suspect in the head and shattering the man’s jaw, but now the Delaware police officer will be resigning without facing prison — and will be getting a $230,000 settlement for leaving the force.
Webster was acquitted of a felony assault charge last year after he was captured on video kicking Lateef Dickerson in the head during a 2013 arrest. The video appeared to show Dickerson complying with police orders to lie on the ground, when Webster seemed to kick him unprompted. The kick broke Dickerson’s jaw, and Webster was charged with assault.
But ultimately a jury agreed with Webster’s claim that he acted in self-defense in a decision that sparked anger in the Dover community, USA Today reported.
“He didn’t take responsibility. No jail, no nothing,” local resident Kentrell Sewell told the newspaper. “Now, if it’s not going to happen in Dover, he’s just gonna kick somebody somewhere else.”
After his acquittal, Webster returned to the police department but this week announced that he would leave the force by June 30. He reached an agreement with the department that he will no longer have contact with the police department building or communicate with city officials. He also will be banned from applying for positions in the city of Dover.
Video of the incident can be seen below, but be warned that it contains some graphic images.
But it was another stipulation of Thomas Webster’s settlement that is causing outrage in Dover. The city agreed to pay Webster $230,000 over the next six years, equivalent to close to half of his current $68,398 salary.
The decision wasn’t well received from city activists, who had called on the city to fire Thomas Webster after his controversial acquittal.
The American Civil Liberties Union also sued Dover Police Department on behalf of Dickerson. Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware, explains why.
“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. 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.”
As the Delaware State News reported, the suit was settled late last year.
“The city of Dover paid $15,000 as part of a civil lawsuit filed after an Aug. 24, 2013, confrontation between a police officer and a fleeing man, an official said Wednesday.
“Officials for the plaintiff and co-defendants last week confirmed a resolution to the ACLU of Delaware’s litigation on behalf of Lateef Dickerson against the city and police Cpl. Thomas Webster IV.”
There are some defending Thomas Webster, however. Fred Calhoun, president of the state Fraternal Order of Police Delaware State Lodge, said many people supported the officer.
“I think people would eventually have moved past this. They would have accepted the officer for the job he does. A large portion of the community wasn’t opposed to Officer Webster. The squeaky wheel gets the oil here.”
Video of the incident was released last year, which came to the dismay of both city leaders and some within the black community. Representatives from the local NAACP said the video stirred tensions in the community before black leaders had a chance to open a dialogue with the community about the incident and a proper response.
But others are worried that Thomas Webster could eventually find his way back onto a police force. Because he resigned rather than being fired, he would be free to re-apply to a different police department.
[Image via YouTube]