Three police officers have been removed from duty after the viral spread of the video.
This week, a video of police taking down a man at the Arkansas convenience store drew national attention because of the brutality of its appearance.
The 34-second video showcases the Crawford County Sheriff's deputies Zack King and Levi White as well as Mulberry Officer Thell Riddleover taking down the 27-year old South Carolina resident Randall Worcester.
The officers are repeatedly kneeling the suspect, and kicking him on the head. In one instance the patrolman grabs Randall by his hair and then slams his head against the ground.
According to ABC News, an investigation is in progress:
Federal authorities announced Monday that they are launching an investigation into civil rights after the demotion of three Arkansas police officers following the release of a video to social media showing officers beating a man, while another officer shackled him down.
As reported, Randall had been making threats:
The officers responded to an incident of a man threatening to attack a convenience store in the tiny town of Mulberry located about 140 miles (220 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, near the border with Oklahoma, police confirmed.
At the conclusion of the film, an innocent bystander shouts at the police to cease their pursuit. One officer shouts something like, “Back the f*** up!”
The lawyer for Randall, Carrie Jernigan, claims Randall was the victim of a near-deadly force:
“The fight was escalating with those officers, and you hear that woman on that video yelling and whoever that is, I think she could have saved his life.”
In the month of March, Carrie filed an excessive force complaint against one the officers involved on behalf of a client.
Randall was transported to the hospital and booked in at the Crawford County Jail. The charges against him include second-degree assault, resisting detention, and making terroristic threats.
Worcester was released on Monday, despite a bail of $15,000. When asked how he felt and how he was feeling, he replied “all right.” An attorney who was escorting him out of jail refused to speak on behalf of the defendant. Worcester was riding a bicycle while he was leaving the jail.
The civil rights probe was launched through the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas, the FBI's Little Rock Field Office, and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
A DOJ announcement affirms justice:
“The FBI and the Arkansas State Police will investigate any evidence that is available and make sure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, complete and impartial way. Federal investigations are distinct and distinct from the state's ongoing investigation.”
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante has declared, “I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter.”
In the words of Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory, the incident is being handled “very seriously.”
ABC Notes that Governor Asa Hutchinson has made comments, also:
[H]utchinson, a Republican…described the beating as “reprehensible conduct” and said the officers' actions were “not consistent” with the teachings of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.
According to reports, Randall did have a weapon:
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante claimed that before Worcester was detained, an officer asked him whether he had weapons and he gave one of them over to the police. Damante did not specify the type of weapon it was.
“They were about to take him into custody because of part of their investigation on the scene — that's when he became violent,” Damante claimed.
As a viewer of the two minutes of violence I find it hard to imagine the duration and brutality of the attack being justified, particularly when the primary reason for the incident included “threats.”
It's not clear at present whether officers were wearing body cameras.
On CNN, former NYPD detective and Law enforcement consultant Tom Verni played the role of “devil's advocate”
“[W]hen someone is resisting arrest, and they are refusing to comply with the police, what happens is that escalates that situation to where now police have to amp up their level of force from verbal commands to some level or varying levels of physical force, or other levels.”
Anchor Jim Sciutto asked whether head-bashing is a method “taught in any police training.”
“That particular tactic of hitting someone's head on the ground? No.”
He added, “If you're in a fight for your life, you use whatever force is necessary to make sure you can escape from that incident unscathed, or as unscathed as possible.”
Is this case going to be a case that will become the most talked about of a few incidents involving officers over the last few years? This will be determined by whether the forthcoming reports provide an opportunity for political hooks.
In the meantime, Crawford Deputies Zack King and Levi White have been suspended while Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle is on administrative leave.