Samuel Waters, a former Wilmington police officer, could face up to eight years in prison after being convicted of four crimes, including a felony, for using excessive force during an incident that took place in September 2021.
Supervisors from the Wilmington Police Department, along with investigators, informed the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust that Waters had failed to turn his body worn camera on when he should have, and that he regularly failed to do so.
The Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust opened its investigation into Waters after discovering footage of the Sept. 21, 2021 event where he repeatedly forced a man’s head against a plexiglass window, causing lacerations and bruising. The incident came to the agency’s attention after surveillance video of the arrest went viral.
The investigation found that he lied in official documentation of the incident, and that just nine days prior, he was involved in another excessive force case in which he used his nightstick to repeatedly apply downward pressure on the back of a victim’s neck, pushing their face into the back of a vehicle and causing injuries.
The police department’s Use of Force instructor said that the force Waters employed was against policy and inconsistent with how Wilmington’s police officers are trained.
He’s charged with felony tampering with public records (first degree), falsifying business records, assault (third degree) and official misconduct.
This case wasn’t just about one video or one arrest,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings said. “It was about a defendant who clearly abused his authority through egregious, unnecessary violence, and who subsequently tried to cover up his actions by lying about them.”
Waters’ crimes undermined public trust in law enforcement, Jennings said, and disrespected the community he swore to protect, and broke the law.
“Now he will face the consequences of his actions,” Jennings said.
This is the first conviction at trial in a police use of force case during Jennings’ tenure. Two other officers have previously pleaded guilty in excessive force cases.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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