Thomas Webster IV, a Delaware police officer who was acquitted of a felony charge late last year when he was caught on police dashcam kicking a Black man in the head, has resigned in a settlement agreement that will pay him $230,000 over the next six years.
Webster’s resignation has not reduced the lingering distrust between citizens of Dover and the city's police force since the August 2013 encounter between Webster and the victim, Lateef Dickerson, who suffered a fractured jaw.
A second grand jury indicted Webster after a first declined to issue charges. He was found not guilty of felony assault and returned to the police department’s payroll while on leave despite the fact that Black community activists urged the force to fire him.
It wasn’t until late Tuesday that Dover announced Webster was to separate from the force by the end of this upcoming June. The city said Webster “shall not enter the Dover Police Department building or communicate with the City of Dover or its representatives,” once his separation takes place.
As part of the settlement that will pay him approximately $34,000 a year through 2022, the statement also says that internal affairs investigation regarding Webster will be closed down, and that he is forbidden from ever seeking a job with Dover city government.
Despite the fact that he will not be able to work for Dover, the agreement says nothing regarding Webster’s ability to get a job with a different law enforcement agency.
City Councilman Tim Slavin said Webster’s departure was necessary to rebuilding trust. “We all, as a city, need to heal from this horrible event. There’s no one thing that will bring the city to closure, but this is first step.”
This separation is a step in the right direction, but it does not change the fact that many in Dover’s Black community, are still convinced that Webster should have been charged for the incident. La Mar Gunn, president of the Central Delaware NAACP, said he was pleased to hear of Webster’s departure saying it was what the community wanted, and “in the spirit of brotherhood that we’ve been working on her the past several months.” He also said that the separation is evidence that the town leaders are listening to its constituents.
Recently, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders sat down with BET to discuss what is at the root of the police violence epidemic.
(Photo: Dover Police Department)