In August 2013, a starling incident of police brutality was caught on video. Lateef Dickerson was on the on his hands and knees, when Dover police Cpl. Thomas Webster IV walked over to him and kicked him in the face. The blow broke Dickerson’s jaw, and Webster was charged with assault the attack.
The prosecution team argued that Dickerson was not a threat when he was kicked in the face. In addition, the prosecutors felt that Webster acted recklessly and used excessive force. As part of his defense, Webster has stated that he meant to kick Dickerson in the body and missed. Webster felt in fear of his life and thought Dickerson was armed. On Dec. 8, 2015, a Delaware jury deliberated for 18 hours and reached a startling decision. The jury acquitted Webster on felony assault and the lesser charge of misdemeanor assault. Webster is now a free man who got away with a blatant display of police brutality against a Black citizen.
The decision to charge Webster for the assault was a heated issue in the community. Many felt that the District Attorney’s office was pressured into convening a second grand jury because of the charged racial nature of the case. At the announcement of the acquittal, Fred Calhoun, president of the Delaware chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police stated, “I think that it’s going to go a long way with my brothers and sisters that society has shown, at least in Dover, that they have had enough of being bullied and they have faith in the police and the job we do.”
Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat issued a statement saying the Dover Police Department will be evaluating the case and will make a determination over Webster’s status in the department.
View the video of the incident on the next page.