Dover paid $15,000 to settle lawsuit in Webster case

DOVER — 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.

However, no further details are currently available as the settlement process continues.

The city’s insurer, Travelers Insurance, is defending the lawsuit; Dover has a maximum deductible of $15,000 to pay in any action, Dover City Manager Scott Koenig said.

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Thomas Webster IV

“These monies are paid to the insurance company as charges are incurred on a monthly basis up to the deductible of $15,000,” Mr. Koenig said. “According to my information, we have already paid the $15,000 for this event/claim.”

Through terms of the city’s policy, the insurance company addresses lawsuits of this nature and would cover the rest of any settlement above the deductible, if applicable, Mr. Koenig said.

Lawyer Daniel Griffith is representing the city’s interests with the insurance company, officials said.

The city received notice that lawyers had reached an agreement on the principle terms of a settlement, according to Mr. Koenig.

When asked if anyone from the city had input on the apparent resolution to the pending case Mr. Koenig said:

“To my knowledge, the analysis of risk is solely within the insurance company’s realm of decision.”

Payment of the city’s insurance deductible is a component of the municipal budget, Mr. Koenig said.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court arose in September 2014 after investigation into the confrontation between Cpl. Webster and Mr. Dickerson during an apprehension more than a year earlier; Cpl. Webster was seen in a police patrol car dashcam video kicking Mr. Dickerson, which resulted in a broken jaw.

On Tuesday a Kent County Superior Court jury found Cpl. Webster not guilty of felony second-degree assault and a lesser included misdemeanor third-degree assault charge. He testified that he was not aiming for Mr. Dickerson’s jaw when the kick was administered, but at his upper body.

Mr. Dickerson was initially charged with resisting arrest during the incident, but the count was later dropped.

Lateef Dickerson

Lateef Dickerson

Cpl. Webster was suspended without pay following his indictment this past May. On Wednesday, Dover Police Department said his employment status had not changed in the acquittal’s immediate aftermath as a process of reviewing his position continued.

Police said an update would be provided when available.

Last week, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen pledged transparency regarding results of the pending lawsuit. He said as much information as possible will be released to the public when available.

Information from a settlement filed in federal court would be publicly available, but contingent on any possible non-disclosure agreement that could limit details.

Mr. Dickerson did not attend the criminal trial against Cpl. Webster. The Delaware Department of Justice said he was wanted by several law enforcement jurisdictions on multiple unrelated felony charges. Earlier, the state said a trial against him on weapons charges in the Middletown area is scheduled for January.

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