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Special prosecutor files charges against Randal Worcester, man arrested by Arkansas officers in video

A man seen being violently arrested by Crawford County deputies and a Mulberry officer in a viral video is now facing six charges related to the incident that day.

CRAWFORD COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — A man seen in a violent video being hit and held down by Arkansas authorities during an arrest in August is now facing six charges related to the incident that day, including battery and resisting arrest.

The charges were filed on Dec. 1 by a special prosecutor requested by Crawford County Prosecutor Rinda Baker.

Randal Worcester, a 27-year-old man, alleges in a federal lawsuit that he was on his way to South Carolina on his bicycle and was traveling through Crawford County when two deputies (Levi White and Zack King) and a Mulberry officer (Thell Riddle) used excessive force while attempting to arrest him.

A video of some of the arrest taken the morning of Aug. 21, 2022, went viral. It was taken by a bystander at the Mulberry gas station where the arrest took place. In the video, there are three uniformed officers on top of Worcester while at some points kicking and hitting him while he is on the ground.

The two Crawford County deputies were fired about a month after the incident while another independent prosecutor requested by Baker looks into the use of force claims against all three officers.

"I requested a special prosecutor in each matter due to conflicts and to avoid any appearance of impropriety or ethical conflict," Baker said in a statement.

The special prosecutor requested to look into whether charges would be filed against Worcester, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Denis Dean, filed the charges against Worcester on Dec. 1.

Credit: KFSM

The charges against Worcester:

  • First degree terroristic threatening (felony) 
  • Battery in the second degree (felony)
  • Resisting arrest (misdemeanor) 
  • Prossessing an instrument of a crime (misdemeanor) 
  • Obstructing governmental operations (misdemeanor) 
  • Disorderly conduct (misdemeanor)

According to reports, former Deputy Levi White, former Cpl. Zack King and Mulberry Officer Thell Riddle were called after a gas station employee in Alma (a different gas station than the one in Mulberry where the arrest took place) said Worcester threatened to "cut her face off" when she told him he couldn't loiter.

The officers approached Worcester at the Mulberry gas station after he matched the description given in the call. After a brief back-and-forth, a physical altercation ensued after Worcester handed over a pocket knife he had to the officers. 

In a federal lawsuit filed by Worcester's attorneys, they claim that while the conversation began calmly and Worcester handed them a pocket knife, without warning, former Deputy White "aggressively attempted to put Mr. Worcester's arms behind his back in an effort to handcuff him, without stating any reason for doing so." Worcester said he wasn't read his Miranda Rights when he was handcuffed.

"At no point during the incident did any of the Defendant Officers attempt to use de-escalation tactics or subdue Mr. Worcester with a taser and/or pepper spray." Worcester's attorneys allege the three officers "acted with malice and/or reckless disregard" for Worcester's Constitutional rights.

According to Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante and the lawyer for the two deputies, it was Worcester who began the fight that escalated into what was seen in the video.

Russell Wood, the attorney for former deputies White and King described Worcester as a "violent suspect" who "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," after he handed over his pocket knife. Worcester then, according to Wood, "got on top of Deputy White and began striking him in the back of the head and face."

"Deputy White re-engaged and used all force necessary to get the violent suspect under control and detained," Wood said in a statement the day after the arrest.

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