ACLU lawsuit against Webster and city ‘resolved’

DOVER — As a felony criminal trial involving a city police officer charged with assaulting a suspect in August 2013 continued on Wednesday, the ACLU of Delaware confirmed that a lawsuit regarding the incident has been settled.

The ACLU of Delaware filed the lawsuit on the behalf of Lateef Dickerson against the City of Dover and Police Cpl. Thomas Webster IV on Sept. 29, 2014.

Mr. Dickerson was rendered unconscious and suffered a broken jaw during a police response to a reported late night fight at a Hess gas station on U.S. 13 on Aug. 24, 2013.

When asked by media Wednesday about the lawsuit status, ACLU of Delaware Executive Director Kathleen MacRae said: “The case has been resolved.”

Ms. MacRae would not disclose when the case was settled or on what terms. She declined further comment.

Lateef Dickerson

Lateef Dickerson

Left unanswered was whether papers have been signed and/or filed in court yet, whether only a verbal agreement has been reached, and whether both defendants — the city and the officer — were still part of the lawsuit.

When asked about the status of the lawsuit on Tuesday via e-mail, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen directed the question to city solicitor attorney Nicholas Rodriguez.

“I would refer you to our solicitor for answer on the status of that issue,” Mayor Christiansen wrote. “ … in these matters they are charged with that responsibility.”

Through e-mail on Wednesday, Mr. Rodriguez said, “Our insurance carriers have their own attorneys. We do not handle any claims such as this unless we have no coverage.

“The attorneys do not communicate with me or (attorney) Bill Pepper. We understand that a settlement has been reached but that is all that he and I know.”

Mr. Rodriguez referred lawsuit questions to the city clerk, who said they should be answered by the human resources department, who provided contact information regarding insurance company matters.

After confirmation of a resolution on Wednesday, attempts to reach Mayor Christiansen for further comment were not immediately successful.

A City of Dover representative said that the city’s insurance regarding the matter is covered by Traveler’s Insurance, and attorney Dan Griffiths represents city interests. Attorney Kevin Connors is representing Cpl. Webster, according to the city representative. Attempts to reach both lawyers on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday, Dover City Councilman David Anderson said, “I knew things were in the works,” regarding the lawsuit, but that he could not confirm any resolution. “If so, I’m surprised it would be resolved before the criminal trial was completed.”

Mr. Anderson said that while his consituents have been following the criminal trial, there has not been much discussion about the civil case.

“Without the civil case, there would not have been a criminal case, since there was the threat of video (of the incident) getting out,” Mr. Anderson said. “The civil case may have re-focused the state’s attention to bring a criminal case.”

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