Former Arkansas deputy sheriffs charged in violent arrest caught on video

Two former Arkansas sheriff deputies are being charged with federal civil rights offenses for allegedly using excessive force during a police arrest of a man at a gas station in Mulberry, Arkansas, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

A grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Crawford County, Arkansas Sheriff's Deputies Levi White and Zackary King, alleging that White repeatedly hit 27-year-old Randal Worcester of Goose Creek, South Carolina, during the Aug. 21, 2022 incident and King hit Worcester multiple times while he was lying on the ground.

"Randal is very happy," his attorney Rachel Bussett told CBS News. "He is grateful to see that the Department of Justice is pursuing charges against the officers."

Three law enforcement officers have been suspended after a video posted on social media showed a South Carolina man being held down on the ground and beaten by police.  / Credit: Andrew DeMillo / AP
Three law enforcement officers have been suspended after a video posted on social media showed a South Carolina man being held down on the ground and beaten by police. / Credit: Andrew DeMillo / AP

Video of the arrest shows three officers repeatedly striking Worcester, who is White, and slamming his head into the pavement. One officer repeatedly strikes Worcester with a closed fist while another knee him several times in the lower body. A bystander filmed the police during the attack.

The officers were responding to a report of a man making threats outside a Kountry Xpress gas station in the small town of Mulberry, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock, near the border with Oklahoma, authorities said. In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in August, Worcester said he was riding his bicycle back to his home in Goose Greek, South Carolina, according to court documents — more than 900 miles away. Originally from Oklahoma, Worchester is temporarily living in South Carolina as he is homeless and struggles with mental health issues, said his attorney. He was taking a bicycle trip but it is not clear how he arrived in Arkansas, said his attorney.

He had stopped and asked the gas station attendant for water, and the attendant became angry and called the police, court documents said.

Worcester had allegedly made "terroristic threats" against a gas station employee, police said, and threatened to cut off the employee's face. He then left and biked around seven miles before police caught him, police said.

Worcester surrendered a knife and then "football tackled" one of the deputies and punched him in the back of the head, police said. None of the officers were wearing body cameras, police said.

Mulberry police officer Thell Riddle, who was also at the scene, has not been charged with federal civil rights charges. He is still listed on the Mulberry Police website as a full-time police officer. CBS News reached out to the Mulberry police department for clarification but there was no response before publication.

If convicted of the excessive force charges, White and King face up to 10 years in prison.

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