Dover officer Webster resigns from police department

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With Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat, right, and lawyer Glenn Mandalas by his side, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen announced Tuesday evening that Dover Police Cpl. Thomas Webster IV has resigned from the department. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER— Dover Police Cpl. Thomas Webster IV, who was found not guilty last year of assaulting a suspect with a kick to the jaw during an Aug. 24, 2013 apprehension, has resigned from the department.

Mayor Robin Christensen announced Cpl. Webster’s resignation during a press conference Tuesday evening.

While the resignation was accepted immediately, Mayor Christiansen said Cpl. Webster’s official date of separation will be June 30.

He did not take any questions after delivering the statement.

Cpl. Webster was found not guilty of a felony assault charge by a 12-member jury on Dec. 8, 2015.

Cpl. Webster was on duty when the incident occurred. The charge resulted from the arrest of Lateef Dickerson.

La Mar Gunn, Central Delaware NAACP president, said he’s happy with the results, but not how the issue was resolved.

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Thomas Webster IV

“There’s been positive momentum between the police department and the community,” Mr. Gunn said.

“It’s been a cloud over our heads that we no longer have to deal with, but I don’t like him getting a parting gift.

“It’s just a shame that the taxpayers will have to take a hit with this,” he added. “It’s an expensive endeavor to pursue justice. But I understand the city’s position and making a tough decision like this one. It makes sense.”

According to testimony, the Aug. 24, 2013, incident unfolded after Dover police officers responded to a reported large fight in progress at a now-closed Hess gas station on U.S. 13.

The report included a suspect described as fleeing with a weapon, along with several other persons scattering on foot and in a vehicle as police arrived.

Shortly afterward, at approximately 11 p.m., Cpl. Webster and another Dover officer located a man later identified as Mr. Dickerson who matched the description of a possibly armed person in the area of U.S. 13 and Maple Parkway.

With firearms drawn, the officers commanded Mr. Dickerson to go to the ground.

Police said Mr. Dickerson continued not to comply after Cpl. Webster unsuccessfully attempted to kick the suspect in the back of the leg.

La Mar Gunn

La Mar Gunn

As Mr. Dickerson moved onto his hands and knees on the ground before becoming fully prone, Cpl. Webster was seen on dashcam video landing a kick that dropped Mr. Dickerson into an unconscious state.

During the trial, Cpl. Webster testified that he was directing the kick toward Mr. Dickerson’s upper body, but mistakenly struck his head instead.

Mayor Christiansen said that following the acquittal, the city and Cpl. Webster entered into discussions concerning his continued employment.

“Those discussions resulted in an amicable end to Cpl. Webster’s employment relationship with the city,” Mayor Christiansen said. “He submitted his voluntary resignation to the Dover Police Department.”

Mr. Gunn said the community can finally move on.

“We can move forward,” Mr. Gunn said. “It was a tough time for people in the community when he wasn’t found guilty, but this effort proves that when the community leaders fight for what’s right then good things happen.

“I’m excited about the results, but not how we got there, but we can finally close this chapter.”

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