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Dover cop Thomas Webster resigns after assault acquittal

Dover Police Cpl. Thomas Webster, who was acquitted of kicking an unarmed black man unconscious last year, has resigned from the force.

Dover City Council held an executive session to discuss the matter Tuesday night and Mayor Robin Christiansen announced resignation. Webster entered into negotiations with the city after a jury found him not guilty in December.  Those negotiations ended with what a Dover Police release called an "amicable end" to Webster's time on the force.

Terms of the settlement and his resignation are not immediately known.

La Mar Gunn, president of the Central Delaware NAACP, says the city had little choice but to settle with Webster.

“The police union is playing with house money so the city did the fiduciary thing to do, which was to protect the taxpayer," said Gunn. "They knew what they were up against: people who knew the system was stacked in their favor.”

Webster had stopped Lateef Dickerson at gunpoint in August 2013 after a fight at a nearby gas station.

During the encounter, Dickerson eventually lowered himself to the ground. That's when a dashboard camera in a nearby patrol car recorded Webster kicking Dickerson in the face, dislodging his jaw and leaving the man unconscious.

Warning: Video shows graphic content. The encounter begins around 2:20


The trial lasted nearly three days, with civil rights activists and Webster’s supporters crowding a Kent County courtroom.

Gunn says despite the verdict, he and others are ready to and have been working with what he calls “the best cops in the state.”

“[It's] just time for the community to heal and move forward and, unfortunately, the taxpayers are left with the bill,” said Gunn.

It took two grand juries to indict Webster.  The second charged him with one count of 2nd degree assault that could’ve carried up to eight years in prison.

Law enforcement groups rallied behind Webster, pointing out that he had already been disciplined internally for the encounter and accusing the then new Attorney General Matt Denn (D) of trying to score political points after being elected.

Shortly after the verdict, Delaware Fraternal Order of Police President Fred Calhoun said it's, "...going to go a long way with my brothers and sisters that society has shown – at least in Dover – that they have had enough of being bullied and they have faith in the police and the job we do and that we will move forward to business as usual.”

Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union and Dickerson settled with Webster and the City of Dover in federal court in early January, though terms of that settlement are also not public.

Webster's resignation will be effective June 30.

A previous version of this story indicated that Dover City Council announced Webster's resignation.  In fact, Mayor Robin Christiansen made the announcement.  Delaware Public Media apologizes for the error.

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