Arkansas deputy punched in the body by suspect before bystander video began showing violent arrest outside store, attorney says – KION546
By Steve Almasy and Melissa Alonso, CNN
Two Arkansas deputies – one of whom said he was punched in the body – underwent training to subdue a suspect during a violent encounter outside a store in the town of Mulberry, a law enforcement attorney said on Tuesday. the order in a press release.
Part of Sunday’s arrest was captured on 34 seconds of bystander video that led to state and federal investigations into the actions of Crawford County deputies and a third Mulberry Police Department officer. The recording shows at least two of them punching and kneeing the suspect – identified as Randal Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina – during an arrest.
Lawyer Russell A. Wood, who represents MPs Zack King and Levi White, said Worcester fit the description of a man who threatened to cut a woman’s face with a knife and was violent towards the officers.
“The degree of force permitted by law is always relative to the offense committed by the suspect,” Wood said. White’s interactions with Worcester “were cordial to the point” and then the suspect allegedly “violently attacked” him, Wood said. “Similarly, there was no use of force after the handcuffs were attached.”
CNN reached out to Worcester’s attorneys on Tuesday to comment on Wood’s statement.
Bystander video, which was posted to social media, shows law enforcement officers restraining an individual – identified by state police as Worcester – near a sidewalk outside a business . One officer punches the person in the face and slams their head on the ground, while another knees them on their side and back.
A woman not seen in the video says, “Don’t beat him! He needs his medicine! An officer responds, “Back off the f**k!” while another officer orders him to get into his car.
“We don’t know what would happen if that person hadn’t filmed,” Carrie Jernigan, one of Worcester’s attorneys, said Monday. “The fight was heating up with these officers and you hear this woman screaming on this video, and whoever it was, I think she could have saved their life.”
Wood said there was video recorded by Officer Mulberry’s patrol vehicle’s dashboard camera that shows the entire event. It has not been made public. None of the officers wore body cameras, officials said.
Wood said he requested the police video but received no response.
“These MPs deserve the full truth to come out,” Wood said.
Lawyer says MPs used ‘compliance strikes’
The deputies’ attorney said White was verifying Worcester’s identity when “the suspect became enraged and violently attacked Deputy White by grabbing him by the legs, lifting him up and punching him head first. , on the concrete parking lot”.
“White was momentarily incapacitated, but remembers being hit several times in the head and then seeing the suspect fight with Corporal King and Officer Mulberry,” Wood said in the communicated. “Deputy White re-engaged and used whatever force necessary to subdue the violent suspect and arrest him.”
According to Wood, the use of “MP-administered compliance strikes was used exactly as trained.”
Worcester suffered multiple abrasions to his face, scrapes to his knees, scrapes, a swollen right ear and had his eye gouged out during the altercation with law enforcement, attorney David Powell. Wood said in his statement that the suspect did not need or seek treatment and he told jail officers he was not injured.
White was treated for a concussion and swelling and bruising over his right eye, Wood said.
Suspect released on bail
Worcester is charged with second degree battery, resisting arrest, possession of an instrumentality of crime, criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, threatening terrorism and first and second degree assault, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Worcester allegedly threatened a gas station employee in a nearby town, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante told CNN affiliate KHBS.
Worcester was released on $15,000 bond, Powell said. He had his bicycle with him as the lawyers escorted him out of the detention center, and he gave no audible response to a reporter’s question.
The suspect told officers he had a gun, but the sheriff believes Worcester turned it over before the fight started, he told reporters on Monday. Damante also said the encounter was recorded by a camera in Officer Mulberry’s vehicle.
A Facebook post from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department identified the Mulberry police officer as Thell Riddle.
The deputies are not newbies and have been in law enforcement “for quite some time”, while the Mulberry officer has been in the force for “many years” and previously worked for the sheriff’s department, said Damante told reporters on Monday. They are suspended with pay, he said.
The Mulberry police officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, his department said.
“The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department take these investigations very seriously and hold all of their officers accountable for their actions,” Mulberry Police said in a statement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas has confirmed that it has opened a federal civil rights investigation. The FBI Field Office in Little Rock and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice are also investigating, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office.
Damante said Monday that the actions he saw on the video “are not indicative of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department or any law enforcement agency in this area.”
The deputies “will be punished for what they have done, if they are found to have violated any rights,” the sheriff said.
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CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin, Andy Rose, Hannah Sarisohn, Elizabeth Wolfe, Nadia Romero and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.