Del. AG's Office Clears Dover Police Chief of Wrongdoing - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. AG's Office Clears Dover Police Chief of Wrongdoing

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware attorney general's office has cleared Dover's police chief of criminal wrongdoing regarding the alteration of an internal affairs report involving the use of force by a former officer.
    
Former Cpl. Thomas Webster IV was charged with assault last year after being seen on police dashcam video kicking a suspect in the head and breaking his jaw in 2013.
    
Prosecutors first took the case to a grand jury in 2014 but failed to get an indictment, and the U.S. attorney's office later concluded there was no civil rights violation. Webster was indicted last year, however, after Democratic Attorney General Matt Denn took office and decided to take the case to a second grand jury.
    
In December, a Kent County jury acquitted Webster, who is white, of assaulting Lateef Dickerson, who is black.
    
Webster said he feared for the safety of himself and others because officers responding to reports of a large fight were told Dickerson was armed with a gun, and that Dickerson, who has a long criminal history, was slow to comply with repeated commands to get on the ground. Dashboard camera video from another officer's vehicle shows that Dickerson had placed his hands on the ground but wasn't fully prone when Webster kicked him.
    
Two days after the incident, Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat wrote that he concurred with an internal affairs investigator who recommended that no action be taken, based on his review of the incident and a report filed by Webster.
    
But in preparing for trial in the racially charged case, Webster's attorney, Jim Liguori, was given a different version of the memorandum, in which Bernat wrote that that he concurred with internal affairs "pending review of in car video."
    
In May, Liguori sent a letter to the attorney general's office asking an investigation of the altered document.
    
"At best, it's unprofessional, disingenuous and sneaky," Liguori wrote. "At worst, it's a crime."
    
But in a response dated Aug. 3, deputy attorney general Dennis Kelleher told Liguori that based on available evidence, there was nothing to support a finding that Bernat committed a crime.
    
Liguori said Monday that he respects the attorney general's decision, but that he still would like to know why the document was altered.
    
"I kind of wished they would have told me why," he said.
    
A lawyer for Bernat did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
    
In February, Dover officials agreed to pay $230,000 to Webster as part of a settlement agreement that included his immediate resignation.

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