DOVER, Del. (AP) — Police in Delaware have released dashcam video showing a white police officer kicking a black suspect in the face as he puts his hands on the ground. The officer was charged this week with assault.
Dover police released the August 2013 video Thursday after a federal judge ruled last week that it was no longer considered confidential. The judge's ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the suspect by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union.
Recorded by another officer's dashboard camera, the video shows Dover Cpl. Thomas Webster IV kickingLateef Dickerson after Dickerson gets down on his hands and knees in response to commands to get on the ground.
Dickerson, 30, was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken jaw, police said in a news release after Webster was charged.
Webster, 41, was arrested Monday and placed on unpaid leave after a grand jury indicted him for second-degree assault. A previous grand jury declined to indict Webster in March 2014, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, after reviewing the case, found no violation of Dickerson's civil rights.
The ACLU subsequently sued Dover police on Dickerson's behalf.
Webster and a second officer encountered Dickerson while responding to a fight at a local service station possibly involving someone with a gun. Court records show that Dickerson has a long criminal history. He was arrested by Dover police last July after a traffic stop for expired tags and was charged with DUI and several weapons charges, including possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and receiving a stolen firearm.
Webster's attorney, James Liguori, said once the dashcam video from Webster's own patrol car and audio from the dispatch center come out, "everybody's going to be satisfied that no crime was committed."
"They've only seen half the movie."
The president of the Central Delaware Branch of the NAACP criticized the police department's decision to release the video, saying he feared it could lead to unrest before his group has had a chance to meet with members of the community.
Gunn said the release of the video was an attempt by police to "control the narrative."
Police said they had not received any tangible threats of violence, but that they had notified store owners and local schools that the video was being released.
Mayor Robin Christiansen said at a hastily arranged news conference that the city will honor the First Amendment rights of citizens to protest.
Webster was placed on paid leave in November 2013 pending an internal investigation and a review of the case by then-Attorney General Beau Biden's office, which took the case to a grand jury but failed to get an indictment against Webster.
Police have said they "acted accordingly" after an internal investigation found that Webster's action did not comply with department policy, and he returned to patrol duty in June 2014.
Attorney General Matt Denn, who took office in January, reviewed the case last week and instructed prosecutors to present it again to a grand jury.