"Oh my God. That's bad. That's messed up." That was the reaction of one Delaware viewer interviewed by the News Journal to a video released yesterday showing a white Dover Police Department officer kicking a black suspect in the head during an August 2013 incident, the newspaper reports. Cpl. Thomas Webster can be seen about halfway through the five-minute, 25-second video (taken from a police car dashboard camera) coming up to a then-30-year-old Lateef Dickerson near a Dover gas station where a fight had been reported, with gun drawn. Ordered to the ground, Dickerson begins to comply; Webster kicks him once in the head. Dickerson lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital with a broken jaw, the paper adds.
A 2014 grand jury chose not to indict Webster, and that same year the US Attorney's Office said Dickerson's civil rights hadn't been violated, per Reuters—actions that prompted the ACLU to sue the police department and demand the video's release. Attorney General Matt Denn, in place since just January, took a personal look at the case and requested a second grand jury to weigh in; it indicted Webster Monday and he was arrested on a felony assault charge that day. Rep. Sean Lynn tells the News Journal that the officer's use of force "seems completely unwarranted. … I was definitely taken aback." Meanwhile, the head of the Delaware police union had a different rationale for why criminal charges were brought: "It's not fair. This was done because of what is taking place in society today," he said in apparent reference to Baltimore and Ferguson. Webster's lawyer says his client will plead not guilty; he's out on $5,000 bail. (Read more Delaware stories.)