A couple of months ago Dover, Delaware police officer Thomas Webster was acquitted of felony assault charges that stemmed from an incident caught on camera where Webster was seen kicking a suspect in the head. Now Webster is walking away from his police job with a nice chunk of change as a severance package.
The incident took place in August 2013, when Webster kicked suspect Lateef Dickerson in the head while Dickerson was attempting to comply with an order to get on the ground. A grand jury failed to indict Webster, but when the charges were brought to a second grand jury by Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, Webster was brought up on assault charges. At his trial, Webster didn’t deny that he intended to kick Dickerson, but he said that he meant to kick him in the body, missed, and stuck Dickerson in the head, breaking his jaw and knocking him unconscious. A jury found Webster not guilty in December.
Following his acquittal, some raised questions about whether Webster could return to patrol duty and do his job without creating tension in the community. That apparently prompted negotiations between Webster and the city over his future employment. On February 23 Webster resigned from his job with an effective separation date of June 30.
But don’t be concerned that Webster is out of a job. Local TV station WBOC reports that the city has agreed to pay him $230,000 as part of a separation package. He will receive approximately $40,000 a year for six years beginning in 2017. Webster will also continue to receive his regular pay and benefits through his separation date.
Dr. Donald Morton, who represents the group “Complexities of Color Coalition,” says that he doesn’t consider Webster’s leaving the force as a victory for relations between the police and the black community.
Because that usually means something, right? And in this instance, it simply means he gets the chance to retire. He gets a chance to retire handsomely.
Once again we see the problem with police officer misconduct. Even when officials vigorously pursue indictments against officers, as in this case, many juries simply refuse to convict them. Apparently this jury let Webster off the hook because he meant to break Dickerson’s ribs, but suffered from poor aim and broke his jaw instead. Since when did “oops, I missed” become a valid defense against charges of felony assault?
Here’s a report:
Featured image via CNN screen capture