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Jury begins deliberations on Webster trial

During closing arguments Friday, state prosecutors painted Dover Police Cpl. Thomas Webster as someone who “took control under his own terms” when he kicked an unarmed black man unconscious in 2013.

They say Lateef Dickerson was beginning to comply with officer instructions, placing both palms on the ground and moving to a prone position, when Webster kicked him in the head.


The blow broke and dislodged Dickerson’s jaw, requiring surgery to repair.


Webster took the stand Thursday, saying that he meant to kick him in the torso instead and missed.


"Police officers are forced to make split-second decisions during high-intensity situations," said defense attorney James Liguori, noting that Dickerson wasn't immediately following directions to get on the ground, heightening tensions during the roughly 12-second encounter.


Liguori says Webster “swiftly, justifiably and thankfully got the situation under control” by using the kick.


But prosecutors say Webster's intentions and target weren't known until nearly two years after finding Dickerson on North Dupont Highway that August night.


In two separate reports, the officer didn't note that he missed with his kick and only brought it up at trial.


"Now in 2015 is not the time to say, 'Oops, I meant to hit him in the torso,'" said prosecutor Danielle Brennan.


Webster is charged with felony second-degree assault and faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.


The jury could also find him guilty with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor that carries a suggested sentence of probation.


Webster rejected a plea deal Monday for third-degree assault with the stipulation that he never again work as a law enforcement agent.


Jurors began deliberations just before noon Friday, but didn't render a verdict. They will resume Monday morning.

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