2 Arkansas deputies fired after video of violent arrest

Two Arkansas lawmakers caught on video arresting a suspect by force outside a convenience store in August were fired, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said Thursday.

Damante told Fort Smith TV station KHBS that deputies Levi White and Zachary King were fired, but did not elaborate on the decision. Damante did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

A bystander recorded White, King and Mulberry Officer Thell Riddle arresting 27-year-old Randal Worcester outside a convenience store in the small town of Mulberry, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock, near the Oklahoma border.

The deputies’ attorney did not immediately return messages Thursday afternoon.

Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory said Riddle remains on administrative leave.

Bystander video from the Aug. 21 arrest shows one of the deputies repeatedly punching and kneeing Worcester in the head before grabbing his hair and slamming him to the pavement. As this was happening, another officer held Worcester down while a third kneed him over and over.

Damante said Worcester was being questioned for threatening an employee at a convenience store in the nearby small town of Alma. Damante said Worcester confronted one of the deputies and punched him in the head before being arrested. The deputy suffered a concussion, Damante said.

2 Arkansas deputies fired after video of violent arrest
FILE — Randal Worcester walks out of the Crawford County Justice Center in Van Buren, Ark., on Aug. 22, 2022. Two Arkansas deputies who were caught on video violently arresting Worcester outside a convenience store in August have been fired, Crawford County O Sheriff Jimmy Damante said on October 6, 2022.

Andrew DeMillo/AP

White has been a deputy in Crawford County since Jan. 10. King has been Crawford’s deputy since July 31, 2019. Prior to that, he worked a year and a half as a civilian jailer for the county.

The three officers were suspended after the arrest video was released on social media and state and federal authorities launched investigations. State police concluded their investigation last month, and the special prosecutor has not announced whether the three will face charges.

Worcester filed a federal lawsuit against the officers as well as local officials, saying they violated his constitutional rights.

A Worcester attorney called the layoffs “a step in the right direction.”

“It’s just one step in a very long journey to get justice for Randall and frankly for Crawford County as a whole,” attorney Adam Rose told the AP.

Worcester was treated at a hospital and later jailed on charges including second-degree battery and resisting arrest. He was released the next day on $15,000 bail. Worcester’s lawsuit said he has permanent injuries from the arrest that will require ongoing medical treatment.

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