Mulberry, Ark. (AP) — Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been suspended, and state police have launched an investigation. Video posted on social media Two of them were shown beating the suspect while a third officer held him to the ground.
In Mulberry, a small town about 140 miles (220 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock near the Oklahoma border, authorities responded to a report of a man making threats outside a convenience store on Sunday, authorities said.
The video shows one officer punching the suspect, while another can be seen hitting the man with his knee. A third officer holds him against the pavement.
In a video recorded from a nearby car, a man yells at officers to stop hitting the man in the head. Two of the officers turn to the shouter and appear to say something. The officers’ comments could not be heard clearly in the video.
Two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a Mulberry police officer were suspended, city and county officials said.
Arkansas State Police said the agency will investigate the use of force. State police have identified the suspect as Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina.
He was taken to a hospital for treatment, then released and booked into the Van Buren County Jail on multiple charges, including second-degree battery, resisting arrest and terroristic threats, state police said.
Worcester’s father declined to comment when contacted Monday by The Associated Press. He sent a reporter to the law firm representing the family. The company said it was still trying to gather information and had no immediate comment on the video.
Worcester is white, according to jail booking information, and the three officers involved appear to be white.
Officials have not released the names of the three officers.
“I hold all of my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate action in this matter,” said Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante.
In a statement released Sunday evening, Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory said the community and department are taking the matter “very seriously.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Twitter The incident will be “investigated based on video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney”.
Cell phone video of often violent police interactions has drawn attention to officer behavior in recent years, particularly since the 2020 killing of George Floyd. When he was arrested by the police in Minneapolis.
The resulting nationwide protests drew attention to officers’ brutality targeting black Americans.
The front door of the building that serves as Mulberry police headquarters and city hall was locked Monday. A sign on the door directed anyone with questions about a “police investigation” to contact the Arkansas State Police.
It’s unclear if the officers were wearing body cameras.
Amid public pressure for transparency and a proliferation of videos exposing police misconduct, there has been some pushback against recording officers. In July, Arizona’s governor signed a bill that would make it illegal to knowingly record officers From 8 feet (2.5 meters) or closer without permission.
Mulberry is a town of 1,600 people on the southern edge of the Ozarks in western Arkansas, right off Interstate 40, which runs from California to North Carolina.
This story has been corrected to correct a typo by Randall Worcester. Officials initially gave the wrong spelling.
Associated Press writers Jill Bleet in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.