Three law enforcement officers in Arkansas were taken off duty after video circulated online showing them apparently beating a man during an arrest.
The city of Mulberry, about 130 miles northwest of Little Rock, said its police department had put one of its officers, who they confirmed was in the video, on administrative leave.
“The City of Mulberry and the Mulberry Police Department takes these investigations very seriously and holds all their officers accountable for their actions,” the city said in a statement. “We will take the appropriate actions at the conclusion of the investigation.”
The Arkansas State Police said in a statement Sunday night that it had “opened an investigation into the use of force by two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a Mulberry police officer in the arrest of a South Carolina man.”
The arrest happened about 10:40 a.m. Sunday outside a convenience store in Mulberry, state police said.
The expletive-ridden video, which was shared widely on social media, showed three officers pinning the suspect, Randall Worcester, a 27-year-old from Goose Creek, S.C., on the ground in a parking lot. One of them punched Worcester in the head repeatedly, as a person recording from a nearby car gasped, saying, “Oh … this is bad.”
Another officer who was holding down Worcester’s legs repeatedly struck him with his knee. The officer holding Worcester’s head grabbed him by his hair and bashed his head onto the ground.
A bystander called out to the officers, admonishing them for beating Worcester. One of the officers — who had moved to strike his knee into Worcester — replied, “Back … up.”
Worcester was brought to a hospital “for examination and treatment” before being jailed in Van Buren, Ark., state police said.
He faces charges including resisting arrest and “refusal to submit.” He also faces charges of criminal trespass and terroristic threatening. Police said they had received a report that Worcester had allegedly threatened an employee at a convenience store in the area, according to the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear whether he had legal representation.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said on Twitter that he had spoken with Col. William J. Bryant, head of the state police, about the “local arrest incident” but did not elaborate.
State police declined to identify the officers seen in the video, deferring to local agencies. A call to the Mulberry Police Department was routed to Crawford County law enforcement, which declined to comment and referred The Washington Post to the state police for comment.
The striking visual of officers pinning someone to the ground was one of the latest violent arrests captured on video in the United States. There have been heightened concerns of brutality by police officers since the 2020 killing of George Floyd, the Black man who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Chauvin was later convicted of murder.
Last month, police in a Chicago suburb punched a teenager multiple times after he fled a traffic stop. Video showed three officers pinning the 17-year-old to the ground. At least two of them appeared to have repeatedly beaten him.
The Oak Lawn, Ill., police chief, Daniel Vittorio, defended the use of force, saying the teenager was reaching for a bag in which a loaded pistol was later recovered. Footage from a dash camera showed officers punching the teenager before deploying a stun gun.