Broadcasting Live from Santa Fe Community College
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Arkansas officers were suspended after video on social media shows a police beating

Updated August 22, 2022 at 2:17 AM ET

Three law enforcement officers in Crawford County, Arkansas, have been placed on leave after a video shared on social media shows them beating and restraining a man in a parking lot. State police will investigate the incident, the governor said.

In the video, a law enforcement officer repeatedly and brutally punches a man that Arkansas State Police identified as Randall Worcester, 27, and slams his head against the cement ground several times. Another officer is seen kicking Worcester's lower body repeatedly while a third officer is seen holding him down.

The incident occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Sunday outside a convenience store in Mulberry, in Crawford County. Mulberry is located near Arkansas' western border with Oklahoma and about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Worcester is accused of threatening an employee at the convenience store and pushing and punching a deputy in the back of the head after being confronted, according to The Associated Press.

Worcester was sent to the hospital, and was later released and sent to a county jail. He is being charged with second-degree battery, resisting arrest, refusal to submit, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening, and second-degree assault, state police said.

Two of the officers are deputies with the Crawford County sheriff's office and the third is an officer with the city of Mulberry Police Department, law enforcement confirmed.

State police said they have opened a use-of-force investigation, and will submit their findings to the Crawford County prosecutor "who will determine whether the use of force by the law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws."

Reaction has been swift from the highest levels of state government, with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson commenting on what he called the "arrest incident."

"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," he said in a tweet.

Crawford County Sheriff James Damante said in a statement hours prior that the two deputies involved in the incident 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," Damante said in the statement posted to Facebook.

In a separate statement from Mulberry Police, the department confirmed that the incident captured on video involved one of its officers, who it said has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a state police investigation.

"The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department takes these investigations very seriously and holds all their officers accountable for their actions," officials said in the Facebook post. "We will take the appropriate actions at the conclusion of the investigation."

A user named Naomi Johnson uploaded a video of the incident to TikTok that she also shared on Twitter, and said: "my sister witnessed this today." Johnson's video appeared to have been removed from TikTok on Sunday evening.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emma Bowman