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A state investigation has begun after a bystander recorded three Arkansas law enforcement officers repeatedly hitting and kneeing a man during an arrest on Sunday in Mulberry, Ark.
All three of the officials — two deputies with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and one Mulberry Police Department officer — were suspended from duty, their departments confirmed.
In the video, which was posted to social media, the officers are seen restraining a man on the sidewalk as they violently punch the person’s head and knee him in the back and side.
At one point, the woman filming the video shouts, “Don’t beat him! He needs his medicine!”
An officer tells the bystander to “Back the f—k up.” Another officer tells the woman to get into her car.
The arrested suspect was later identified by Arkansas State Police as 27-year-old Randal Worcester of Goose Creek, S.C. He has been charged with second-degree battery, resisting arrest, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening and first- and second-degree assault charges, according to state records.
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante told ABC affiliate news station KHBS the incident began at a gas station in Alma, where the suspect is accused of threatening a clerk. He said Worcester then rode a bike to a Kountry Xpress convenience store, where the arrest took place.
Damante alleged Worcester was cooperative at first but “turned violent and tried to attack the officers.” He claimed that is why the three officers had Worcester restrained on the sidewalk.
One officer sustained minor head injuries during the arrest, the sheriff said. Damante told KHBS Worcester was taken to hospital and booked into jail.
According to state jail records, Worcester’s bail is set at US$15,000. It remains unclear whether he has legal representation at this time.
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Both the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and the Mulberry Police Department confirmed the officers involved have been placed on leave, pending results of the investigation by Arkansas State Police.
In a statement shared to Facebook, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office wrote that it requested the investigation from state officials.
“I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter,” the statement continued.
The Mulberry Police Department also said it is “aware of the video circulating on social media involving one of our officers.”
“The officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” the statement read. “The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department takes these investigations very seriously and holds all their officers accountable for their actions.”
Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter said he was “shocked and sickened” by the video of the officers.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he has spoken to state police and the incident will be “investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney.”