Police in Dover, Delaware, released a dashcam video Thursday that shows a white police officer kicking a black suspect in the face. The video, which was captured during an August 2013 incident in the state's capital, was made public after a federal judge ruled that the footage was no longer confidential, the police department said, in a statement.
The video comes just days after Dover Cpl. Thomas Webster IV was charged with second degree assault in the case. The nearly six-minute long video shows Webster kicking Lateef Dickerson after the 30-year-old suspect got down on his hands and knees in response to commands. Dickerson was left unconscious and suffered a broken jaw at the time, police said Monday. The 41-year-old white officer was indicted by a second grand jury on Monday after the first did not return an indictment in March 2014. The Dover police department released the video in response to a ruling that came after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the suspect by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"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," Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware, said, according to the Associated Press. "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."
Two officers, including Webster, had encountered Dickerson while responding to reports of a fight. The suspect, who reportedly has a long rap sheet, was arrested by Dover police last July and was charged with a DUI and several weapons charges, according to court records.
Webster was put on paid administrative leave following the incident and an internal investigation and review of the case was conducted by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office. He returned to his duties in June 2014 after the first grand jury decided not to indict him.
On Thursday, the police department said that upon being notified of the indictment on Monday, it “immediately placed Webster on leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.” Webster appeared in Kent County Superior Court on Monday and was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
James Liguori, Webster's attorney, reportedly said that once the dashcam video from Webster's own patrol vehicle is released, "everybody's going to be satisfied that no crime was committed." The latest video was captured by the dashcam of another police officer who had responded to the August 2013 incident.
However, Leland Ware, one of Delaware’s top civil rights experts, said: “There’s no ambiguity ... It was just an unwarranted use of force,” according to Delaware Online, a local news outlet. “I can’t know what was in their minds,” Ware said, adding: “I can’t speak to why the prior grand jury failed to indict or the U.S. Attorney found no violation of civil rights.”
The video's release and the second grand jury's decision comes amid a string of incidents involving white officers and black men, and nationwide protests over the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials in discharging their duties.
Here is the video released by the department on Thursday.