Arkansas officers charged with violent arrest caught on video

Arkansas officers charged with violent arrest caught on video

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Two former Arkansas law enforcement officers are charged with civil rights violations in the violent arrest of a man in front of a convenience store which was captured on video and widely shared on social media, the US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

Former Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputies Zack King and Levi White are accused of using excessive force in punching Randal Worcester repeatedly while he was on the ground during an August 21 arrest. A passerby used a cellphone to record the arrest in the small town of Mulberry, about 220 kilometers northwest of Little Rock near the Oklahoma border.

The two former MPs pleaded not guilty in a first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon after the indictment against them was unsealed. A lawyer for the former MPs, Russell Woods, said his clients deny the allegations.

If convicted, each MP faces up to 10 years in prison.

No charges have been announced against Mulberry policeman Thell Riddle, who was also on the video. Jimmy Damante, former Crawford County Sheriff fired King and White in October.

Current sheriff Daniel Perry declined to comment on the charges.

Damante said Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was being questioned for threatening an employee at a nearby convenience store and attacking one of the deputies. The deputy suffered a concussion, Damante said.

All three officers were suspended after the video was released, and state and federal authorities have launched investigations. The state’s criminal investigation remains open and active, said Emily White, the state’s special prosecutor handling the case.

worcester filed a federal complaint against officers and local officials, claiming they violated his constitutional rights during the arrest. Rachel Bussett, a lawyer from Worcester, said she was delighted the two had been arrested.

“Now they’re going to have to go through the court process,” Bussett said.

White and King, who had been arrested by US Marshals and the FBI, were released on bail on Tuesday. A judge has set a trial date for April 3 for the men.

Police experts said the video raises red flags over officers’ actionsclaiming that blows to the head are a potentially lethal use of force that is only justified when someone poses a current and serious threat.

Worcester was treated in a hospital and then imprisoned for second-degree grievous bodily harm and resisting arrest. He was released the next day on $15,000 bond. Worcester’s lawsuit said he had permanent injuries and would need continued medical attention.

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