CRAWFORD COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — A video circulating online of three officers beating a man has led to two Crawford County deputies being suspended and a Mulberry police officer being placed on administrative leave.
On Sunday, Aug. 21, the video garnered outrage after the three law enforcement officers are seen on top of a man, using what appears to be excessive force while on the ground outside a convenience store in Mulberry, Arkansas.
In the video, the deputies and the officer are seen holding 27-year-old Randal Worcester down on the ground, kneeling on him and slamming his face to the ground.
The events that led up to the video allegedly began in Alma, where police got a call Sunday morning about a man making threats to an employee at a separate convenience store, stating that he reportedly "spit on" the employee and threatened to "cut off their face."
The man, later identified as Worcester, then reportedly rode a bike from Alma to a Mulberry convenience store near Exit 20. At this convenience store is where Mulberry Officer Thell Riddle and Crawford County deputies Levi White and Zack King met up with Worcester.
According to Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante, the conversation began calmly and Worcester handed them a pocket knife. Then Worcester began attacking one of the deputies, the sheriff said, by pushing him to the ground, leading to what is seen in the video.
On Monday during a press conference, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, "first of all, that is reprehensible conduct in which a suspect is beat in that fashion."
Hutchinson went on to point out the ongoing investigation and that the video isn't "what our law enforcement community represents."
Sheriff Damante said he was "not sure of the last time" Crawford County deputies received excessive force training but that all deputies go through yearly training on their "duty to intervene" —if they see another officer using what they believe to be excessive force, for them to intervene.
After the George Floyd protests, Hutchinson pointed out the state's creation of a law enforcement advancement task force that made recommendations to increase officer training in Arkansas. However, Hutchinson said, "you can train, you can train, you can train, but the officers have to be able to follow that training and put it into practice."
Crawford County also doesn't have body cameras or cameras mounted on their patrol units, but Damante said he's been looking into getting them "in the near future."
State police is now heading the investigation into "the use of physical force by the deputies and police officer," Arkansas State Police said in a statement.
The case file will be sent to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney, who will use the state police's investigation to decide on whether the officers' use of force was "consistent with Arkansas laws."
When asked whether Damante would've known about the violent arrest if a citizen hadn't posted the video on social media, he said "probably not."
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge made a statement on Twitter, stating that while the video is "disturbing," it's important that ASP's investigation gathers facts and hands them over to the prosecutor to determine guilt, if any.
"Every good cop in America is disgusted every time these incidents occur," Rutledge said.
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