Ex-Dover cop’s hiring in Md. under review

GREENSBORO, Md. — The hiring of a former Dover police officer involved in the death last year of a 19-year-old Maryland man during an apprehension is under review, state officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said 29 use-of-force reports in Dover were not included in Thomas W. Webster IV’s history provided by the Greensboro Police Department during a certification process.

Gerard Shields said the state agency learned of the supposedly unreported history through a media story in late January, which prompted a review.

The reports were filed before Mr. Webster was indicted in 2015 regarding an assault charge involving an apprehension two years earlier, he said. An acquittal in the assault case was included in the file, according to the spokesman.

“Our (agency was) not aware of the (other reports),” Mr. Shields said.

The agency is now reviewing the newly learned information “and (will) present the information to our Maryland Police Training Standards Commission,” Mr. Shields said.

“They intend to do that in April but will wait for the Maryland State Police to conclude any review they are doing.”

An attempt to reach Mr. Webster for comment Tuesday was not immediately successful.

Greensboro PD sent the candidate’s application of certification, the spokesman said, and Mr. Webster received provisional certification in January 2018. At that point, police powers in Maryland were granted. Final certification was granted in May 2018.

Public Safety did not indicate whether Greensboro PD was believed to have known of the omission or was unaware.

According to Maryland officials, Mr. Webster completed field training requirements by working 240 hours while being supervised by Greensboro PD. He also completed compliance training focused on police laws in Maryland.

Officer Webster was placed on administrative duty by the Greensboro Police Department following the incident involving Anton Milbert L. Black’s death on Sept. 15, 2018, in Caroline County. Town Manager Jeannette DeLude said Tuesday the officer “is currently on paid administrative leave with modified duties. He is not on patrol at this time.”

The town has a full-time police force of three officers, including Mr. Webster, according to Greensboro’s website.

Also Tuesday, Maryland State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo said the agency’s criminal investigation is currently under review by the Caroline County State’s Attorney.

“The investigation remains open,” she said.

In late January the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner released six pages of findings determing that Mr. Black’s death was accidental and the stress of a struggle likely contributed. The report found that Mr. Black’s bipolar disorder was a significant contributing condition to the incident.

Officer Webster was seen on police video using a baton to break the window of a parked family car Mr. Black fled into and then deploying a taser. Two other officers and a civilian also responded to the apprehension, according to reports.

Mike Petyo, Greensboro’s police chief during Mr. Webster’s tenure, recently left the agency to become a lieutenant in the Camden Police Department effective Jan. 21. A Town of Greensboro news release said he was “offered another opportunity with a police department outside the state.”

Mr. Webster was found not guilty of assault by a jury in 2015 after police dashcam video showed him breaking a suspect’s jaw with a kick in Dover two years earlier.

He departed Dover PD after a $230,000 severance package and was hired by Greensboro PD in 2018.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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