Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Monday the Justice Department has launched a federal investigation into the violent arrest of a man by law enforcement, which sparked widespread backlash after a video of the incident went viral.
The widely shared video Sunday showed three officers punching and kneeling a man while banging his head on the ground in Mulberry, Arkansas. Officers eventually pointed to the camera and yelled at the person filming to move away, video shows.
The officers are Crawford County Deputies Zack King and Levi White, and Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle, according to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. All three are suspended with pay while Arkansas State Police investigate their conduct.
“First of all, it is reprehensible conduct in which a suspect is beaten in this way,” the governor said. “He is under investigation, we don’t have all the details and this suspect certainly had a legitimate history of concern for the officers. But that response was not consistent with the training they receive in as certified officers of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.
In addition to 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 officers beat is Randal Worcester, 27, of South Carolina. A report said a man threatened a convenience store employee in Mulberry on Sunday morning, police said. Officers claim the arrest took place after Worcester punched an MP; the footage that has gone viral does not include the moments leading up to the arrest.
Worcester was treated at a local hospital before being transferred to a jail, they said. Local media reported that Worcester left the Crawford County Detention Center late Monday afternoon.