Lauren Moye, FISM News
Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been suspended following a brutal arrest in which they held down, punched, and kicked a suspect.
Mulberry Police officer Thell Riddle and Crawford County Sheriff deputies Zack King and Levi White have received widespread condemnation after a civilian video of their Saturday arrest went viral. The deputies have both been suspended while Riddle has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation results.
In the video, one officer holds down the suspect, Randall Worcester, who is resisting arrest. Another officer punches Worcester in the head, appearing to slam the man’s head into the concrete below. The final officer repeatedly slams a knee into Worcester’s body.
Warning: The following video contains graphic, violent content.
#BREAKING: Arkansas State Police launch investigation into this incident, captured on camera, outside a convenience store in Crawford County. ASP says two county deputies and a Mulberry police officer were involved. #ARNews
**WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO / No audio** pic.twitter.com/dYE0htfAsf
— Mitchell McCoy (@MitchellMcCoy) August 21, 2022
The law enforcement officers have been criticized for an apparent overuse of force in the arrest.
“I, like many of you, was shocked and sickened by what I saw,” Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter said in a statement released on the city’s official Facebook page.
The Arkansas State Police have opened an investigation strictly limited to the officer’s use of physical force. A statement says a completed case file will be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney to determine if the law was broken in this case.
Once the investigation finishes, the city will consider the results and Baxter promised to “take any actions necessary to insure this never happens again.”
Law enforcement responded to a call at a Crawford County convenience store on Aug. 21. Worcester spat at the store manager and threatened to “cut off their face” according to local news agency TVH11.
What began as a simple arrest, including Worcester disarming himself when requested, turned violent when he resisted arrest. Attorney Russell Wood, the legal representation for the deputies in the case, told TVH11 that the 27-year-old body slammed White first before striking the deputy’s head repeatedly.
Wood said that Deputy White suffered a concussion from the incident.
Officers then pinned Worcester, at which point the video begins. The incident occurred around 10:40 am.
Worcester has been charged with 2nd-degree battery, resisting arrest, refusal to submit, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening, and 2nd-degree assault.
“I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter,” Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said in a Facebook post.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called the officers’ conduct “reprehensible” and that “conduct was not consistent” with their training under state certifications during a news conference yesterday.
Hutchinson said that the federal Department of Justice has also opened an investigation into the incident.
Worcester’s attorney, Carrie Jernigan, expressed gratitude towards the woman who videoed the incident in a press conference. She said, “We do not know what would happen if that person would not have been videoing … whoever that is I think she could have saved his life.”
However, the deputy’s attorney maintains that deputies used compliance techniques according to their training. Wood said, “These techniques are taught to them to inflict pain but not to create damage, and that’s exactly what occurred.”
Wood also said that the suspect reported no injuries at the time he was booked into jail. State police report that he first went through the hospital for evaluation and training. The results of that evaluation have not been released.