Two law enforcement officers have been suspended and another has been placed on administrative leave after a viral social media video showed a violent use of force against a man being held down on an Arkansas sidewalk.
The nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas Times Record newspaper reported that the suspended officers are with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office; the officer placed on leave is with the Mulberry Police Department.
The recording was made around 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Kountry Xpress, a convenience store located at 1107 Georgia Ridge Drive off Interstate 40 in Mulberry, Arkansas, multiple local newsrooms indicated. Mulberry is in the northwestern section of the Natural State. It is approximately two hours northwest of Little Rock near the Oklahoma border.
The video shows one of the assembled officers repeatedly raising his fist and punching what appears to be the restrained man’s head. The restrained man appeared to be on his side for at least part of the confrontation. Another officer, positioned closer to the man’s feet, appears to repeatedly knee the man — possibly in the leg. A third officer, presumably from the police department because his uniform is a different color, appears to help hold the individual to the ground.
Crawford sheriff dept Arkansas pic.twitter.com/KZAmwzwwmV
— Naomi Johnson (@NaomiRHelm) August 21, 2022
The sheriff’s office issued two statements about the incident on Facebook.
The first, dated Saturday evening, reads as follows:
In reference to the video circulating social media involving two Crawford County Deputies, we have requested that Arkansas State Police conduct the investigation and the Deputies have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter.
The second, dated Monday morning, identifies the officers involved and attempts to clear up an inaccurate case of doxxing on social media:
The Deputies involved in the video yesterday are Deputy Zack King, Deputy Levi White and Mulberry Officer Thell Riddle.
There was a comment shared about Zack King’s address yesterday, this is a civilian and is NOT the Crawford County Deputy or associated with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. Please refer questions to the Arkansas State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigations. We are cooperating with all aspects of their investigation and will make a statement to the public at a later time.
The state police identified the individual being pummeled by the local constabulary as Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina. (Jail records indicate the man’s name is Randal Ray Worcester; note the minor variation in the spelling.)
Crawford County jail records reviewed by Law&Crime say the 5’11”, 145-pound Worcester is charged with eight separate counts: second-degree battery, first-degree assault, refusing to submit to arrest/resisting arrest, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, second-degree criminal mischief, making a terroristic threat in the first degree, and second-degree assault. The arresting agency is listed as Crawford County, and Worcester was listed in custody as of 3:56 p.m. Sunday.
The incident reportedly started in Alma, Arkansas, where a man allegedly threatened a convenience store employee and took off on a bicycle, the newspaper indicated.
A “be on the lookout” bulletin was subsequently issued, and a deputy reportedly spotted the man described in the bulletin at the Kountry Xpress, according to local television stations KHBS/KHOG, both of which operate a joint newsroom.
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante told the television stations that Worcester refused medical treatment but was taken to the hospital anyway for a checkup, those television stations indicated.
“Damante said at first, the suspect was cooperative,” KHBS and KHOG continued. “Then, he turned violent and tried to attack the officers. That’s when they pinned him down, and where the video picks up.”
The person who recorded the video reportedly told the television stations that Worcester “tried to get up to run from the officers,” according to the station’s recount of a conversation with the videographer. “However,” the stations added, “However, authorities said the suspect tried to attack the officers.”
The Arkansas State Police are investigating the matter.
“I have spoken with Col. Bill Bryant of the Arkansas State Police and the local arrest incident in Crawford County will be investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) tweeted on Sunday night.
I have spoken with Col. Bill Bryant of the Arkansas State Police and the local arrest incident in Crawford County will be investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney.
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) August 22, 2022
The Arkansas State Police said the incident happened around 10:40 a.m. and that its efforts in the matter were “initiated at the request of the 21st Judicial District prosecuting attorney.”
“The state police investigation will be limited to the use of physical force by the deputies and police officer,” the state police continued in a press release issued Sunday. “Upon completion of the investigation, the case file will be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of force by the law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.”
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