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Investigation into Arkansas officers after video shows violent arrest

The public is calling for answers after three law enforcement officers were seen on a video beating a man during an arrest in Mulberry, Arkansas.

MULBERRY, Ark. — Two Crawford County deputies were suspended and a Mulberry police officer is on administrative leave after a video surfaced showing a violent arrest, causing outrage on social media.

In the video, the three law enforcement officers are seen on top of a man, allegedly using excessive force, at a convenience store in Mulberry, Arkansas on Sunday, Aug. 21. The man has been identified as 27-year-old Randal Worcester of Goose Creek, South Carolina.

The deputies and officer involved in the video have now been identified as deputy Zack King, deputy Levi White and Mulberry officer Thell Riddle. 

According to Sheriff Jimmy Damante with the Crawford County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), around 10 a.m. Sunday, Alma police officers were called about a man making terroristic threats to a convenience store employee. Worcester allegedly spit on the employee and threatened to "cut off their face."

Sheriff Damante says Worcester then traveled on a bike to Mulberry, near Exit 20, where the Mulberry officer and the deputies met with him. The conversation began calm and Worcester handed them a pocket knife he had, but the sheriff says Worcester then began attacking one of the deputies by pushing him to the ground and punching the back of his head, leading to what was seen in the video. 

In the video, the deputies and the officer are seen holding Worcester down on the ground, kneeling on him and slamming his face to the ground.

WARNING: Video below contains graphic content some may find disturbing:

Arkansas State Police are now investigating the incident while CCSO holds an internal investigation. 

The CCSO released the following statement on Facebook:

"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."

In reference to the video circulating social media involving two Crawford County Deputies, we have requested that...

Posted by Crawford County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, August 21, 2022

Sheriff Damante says one of the deputies was told to go to the hospital to get checked for their injuries. 

Worcester was taken to an area hospital and then booked into jail. The extent of his injuries is not known at this time. He faces charges of terroristic threatening, resisting arrest, second-degree battery, trespassing, two counts of first-degree assault, criminal mischief and being in possession of an instrument of crime, according to Sheriff Damante. 

Worcester appeared in court on Monday, Aug. 22, in Crawford County, and was given a public defender. A $15,000 bond was set at the time. According to the prosecutor's office, he has a prior battery on a police officer charge in Oklahoma from 2021. 

Worcester was seen walking out of the Crawford County Detention Center a few hours after his court appearance. 

In a press conference held on Monday, Sheriff Damante says he "probably" would not have known about the extent of violence used had it not been for the video posted on social media.

When asked about the last time Crawford County deputies received use of force training, sheriff Damante said he wasn't sure of the last time they were trained.

Damante did say that Crawford County deputies use “whatever force is necessary to gain control of a person who is violently attacking you or resisting arrest." 

Damante says he will take "appropriate action" against the deputies if they are found guilty of a crime stemming from the violent arrest.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing Worcester held a press conference with two other Arkansans who claim that deputy White used excessive force against them during their recent arrests.

The Mulberry Police Department released the following statement regarding the incident:

"The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department is aware of the video circulating on social media involving one of our officers. The Arkansas State Police have been asked to investigate the incident. The officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department takes these investigations very seriously and holds all their officers accountable for their actions. We will take the appropriate actions at the conclusion of the investigation."

As of Sunday night, the video has been shared on social media thousands of times. 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson released the following statement on Twitter regarding the incident:

The governor then addressed the incident during a press conference on Monday. Click here to watch the full video. 

Russel Wood, the attorney representing Deputy Levi White and Corporal Zack King, is calling for the dash cam video footage to be released. Wood sent a statement to 5NEWS saying: 

"I represent Deputy Levi White and Corporal Zack King regarding the incident that occurred while arresting a violent suspect in Mulberry, AR. There is another video from the Mulberry Police Department’s patrol unit that shows the full, unedited version of events that occurred and this has not been released. Deputy White was responding to a person matching the description of a suspect that threatened to cut a woman’s face off with his knife. Upon contacting the suspect, the suspect provided a false identity. While checking this false identity, the suspect became irate and viciously attacked Deputy White by grabbing him by the legs, lifting him up and body slamming him, head first, on the concrete parking lot. Deputy White struck his head on the concrete and the suspect then got on top of Deputy White and began striking him in the back of the head and face. Deputy White was incapacitated momentarily but remembers getting repeatedly hit in the head and then seeing the suspect fighting with Corporal King and the Mulberry officer. Deputy White re-engaged and used all force necessary to get the violent suspect under control and detained.

Such a violent suspect cannot be allowed to remain unrestrained and all necessary force is authorized to arrest this type of violent suspect. The amount of force authorized under the law is always relative to the offense the suspect commits. In this case, this violent suspect showed his willingness to commit serious violence and then he continued to resist arrest, spit and bite at the officers, and refused to allow the officers to get the handcuffs on him- hence the necessity for three officers. Deputy White’s interactions with the suspect were cordial up to the point the suspect viciously attacked him. Likewise, there was no use of force after the handcuffs were secured. The suspect also stated he had no injuries when booked into the jail and he did not need or request any medical attention. This shows that the compliance strikes administered by the deputies were used exactly as trained. Deputy White needed medical attention and sustained a concussion as result of the attack, 4” circular swelling and bruising above his right eye and is currently suffering from concussion symptoms. I have requested release of the full Mulberry dash cam but have not received a response to my request. I understand that edited, video snippets are the new rage for social media and the news channels, but these Deputies deserve the full truth to come out. The Deputies would like to thank the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA) for always supporting law enforcement officers, even when it feels like no one else will."

On Thursday, the Wood law firm released another statement in regards to further video obtained by Crawford County. 

The statement read:

"I understand there is more video available in the Crawford County case. I will be obtaining the video from the gas station showing the suspect attacking Deputy White and showing his head snapping back and slamming the pavement. This is a good development because the public needs to see what happened."

I understand there is more video available in the Crawford County case. I will be obtaining the video from the gas...

Posted by Wood Law Firm, P.A. on Thursday, August 25, 2022

No further details have been released at this time. We will update you with more information as it becomes available. 

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