Expert: Suspect Didn't Pose a Threat When Dover Officer Kicked H - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Expert: Suspect Didn't Pose a Threat When Dover Officer Kicked Him

Posted: Updated:
Cpl. Thomas Webster Cpl. Thomas Webster

DOVER, Del. (AP)- An expert in police tactics and use of force said Wednesday that he thinks a white police officer in Delaware delivered a "vicious blow" in kicking a black suspect in the head, breaking his jaw and knocking him out.
    
But a judge prohibited former San Jose, California, police officer Ron Martinelli from using the word "vicious" while testifying in the assault trial of Dover police officer Thomas Webster IV.
    
The judge also prohibited Martinelli from giving his opinion on the amount of force delivered to Lateef Dickerson's head, saying his estimate was too imprecise for scientific certainty.
    
Police dash cam video shows Webster kicking Dickerson in 2013 as Dickerson, who officers believed was armed with a gun, slowly complied with commands to get on the ground.
    
In front of the jury, Martinelli testified that Webster was not justified in using such force against Dickerson because he did not present an "objectively reasonable threat" at the time.
    
"At the time that force was applied, he was not resisting arrest," said Martinelli, who acknowledged the video shows Dickerson was slow to comply with police commands. Officers can be heard ordering Dickerson at least three times to get on the ground before he began to do so.
    
But Martinelli said that just before the kick, Dickerson did not present a threat to the officer's safety or any indication that he might try to flee.
    
"He's got both palms on the ground. He's got one knee on the ground," Martinelli said. ".... There is no reasonable threat to the officers."
    
Webster's attorney has argued the officer's actions were justified as he and other officers responded to reports of a fight involving a large group of people and a man matching Dickerson's description armed with a gun.
    
Defense attorney James Liguori also has maintained Webster's indictment in May was the result of "state machinations" and an "abuse of power." A grand jury declined to indict the officer after the encounter, but a second grand jury later indicted Webster.
    
Liguori has argued in court papers that the decision to take the case to a second grand jury with no new evidence was a politically motivated response to nationwide scrutiny of police encounters with black citizens.
    
If convicted of felony assault, Webster faces a maximum eight years in prison, although guidelines call for zero to two years behind bars. He also would be prohibited from owning guns or working as a police officer.
    
Webster rejected an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in return for surrendering his certification and promising to never work as a police officer again.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Suspected Heroin Found in Stolen Vehicle During Somerset Traffic Stop

    Suspected Heroin Found in Stolen Vehicle During Somerset Traffic Stop

    Monday, May 29 2017 12:40 AM EDT2017-05-29 04:40:43 GMT
    Monday, May 29 2017 12:40 AM EDT2017-05-29 04:40:43 GMT

    Police say a Somerset County man was caught with suspected heroin after being pulled over in a stolen vehicle.

    More

    Police say a Somerset County man was caught with suspected heroin after being pulled over in a stolen vehicle.

    More
  • Camden Man Suspected of Stealing Car From Neighbor's Driveway

    Camden Man Suspected of Stealing Car From Neighbor's Driveway

    Monday, May 29 2017 12:33 AM EDT2017-05-29 04:33:33 GMT
    Monday, May 29 2017 1:02 AM EDT2017-05-29 05:02:37 GMT

    A Camden man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a car from someone's driveway.

    More

    A Camden man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a car from someone's driveway.

    More
  • Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    Friday, May 26 2017 8:40 PM EDT2017-05-27 00:40:44 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 11:23 PM EDT2017-05-27 03:23:35 GMT

    DOVER, Del. -- After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school. "We are not going to ease up on the people that are using our city to c...

    More

    DOVER, Del. -- After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school. "We are not going to ease up on the people that are using our city to c...

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices