Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that the Justice Department has launched a federal probe into the violent arrest of a man by law enforcement that gained widespread backlash after a video of the incident went viral.
The widely shared video on Sunday showed three officers punching and kneeing a man while slamming his head to the ground in Mulberry, Arkansas. Officers eventually pointed toward the camera and shouted at the person filming to move away, as shown on the video.
The officers are Crawford County deputies Zack King and Levi White, as well as Mulberry police Officer Thell Riddle, according to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. All three are suspended with pay while the Arkansas State Police conducts an investigation into their conduct.
“First of all, that is reprehensible conduct in which a suspect is beat in that fashion,” the governor said. “It is under investigation, we don’t have all the details and certainly that suspect had a history of concern that was legitimate for the officers. But what that response was was not consistent with the training that they receive as certified officers with the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.”
In addition to the state police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s civil rights division have launched a separate investigation into the violent arrest, Hutchinson said.
According to Arkansas State Police, the man whom the officers beat is 27-year-old Randal Worcester of South Carolina. A report indicated that a man was making threats to a convenience store employee in Mulberry on Sunday morning, according to police. Officers claim that the arrest occurred after Worcester punched a deputy; the footage that went viral does not include the moments before the arrest.
Worcester was treated at a local hospital before being transferred to a jail, they said. Local media reported that Worcester bonded out of the Crawford County Detention Center Monday late afternoon.