The Arkansas State Police are investigating the beating of a man during his arrest on Sunday morning outside a convenience store in Mulberry, Ark., by three officers, one of whom could be seen on video repeatedly punching the man’s head and smashing it into the pavement. Another officer held the man down while the third repeatedly drove his knee into the man’s body.
A 34-second video of the arrest, which was taken by a bystander in Crawford County, about 160 miles northwest of Little Rock, was shared widely on social media and even prompted Gov. Asa Hutchinson to weigh in.
Two of the officers were suspended, and one was placed on administrative leave during the investigation, law enforcement agencies said.
The man who was arrested was identified by Arkansas State Police as Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, S.C. The nature of his injuries was not immediately clear, but the State Police said he was treated at an area hospital and released. They said he was charged with second-degree battery, resisting arrest, terroristic threatening, second-degree assault and other charges.
“The state police investigation will be limited to the use of physical force by the deputies and the police officer,” the Arkansas State Police said in a statement.
The statement added that after the investigation was complete, the case would be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of force was justified.
The video involves two deputies from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and one officer from the Mulberry Police Department, according to statements from both agencies. The Mulberry Police Department said its officer was on administrative leave pending the investigation, and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office said its officers were suspended pending the investigation.
The departments did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails late Sunday and early on Monday. Both agencies released similar statements saying that they hold their employees “accountable for their actions.”
The names of the officers were not immediately released, and it was not clear whether the officers or Mr. Worcester had lawyers.
Mr. Hutchinson said that he had spoken with William J. Bryant, the commander of the Arkansas State Police, and that the episode would be investigated because of the video footage and at the request of the prosecuting attorney.
It was not immediately clear from official sources what led to the incident. The statements by the agencies did mention body-camera footage.
KSFM-TV, a station in Arkansas, reported that the Crawford County sheriff, Jim Damante, said the police were called about a man who had spat on a convenience store employee and threatened to cut off the employee’s face.
Sheriff Damante said the man rode a bike to another location, where the deputies spoke calmly with him before he pushed one of the deputies to the ground and punched the back of his head, KSFM-TV reported.