The US Justice Department has initiated a civil rights investigation into the actions of three Arkansas law enforcement officers recorded on video hitting and kicking a man on the ground outside a convenience store over the weekend.
The department’s Western Arkansas field office said in a statement on Monday that it will engage with the civil rights division and the FBI to investigate the incident on Sunday in Mulberry, a town of approximately 1,500 people about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of the state capital, Little Rock.
A bystander’s video of the event, which was extensively posted on social media and by news outlets, showed a cop hitting a suspect in the face while another police kicked the man in the legs and torso.
A third cop was observed restraining the subject on the ground. The video ends when one of the officers points to a bystander and tells them to stop filming.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office stated two of its deputies, Zack King and Levi White, as well as Thell Riddle, a Mulberry police officer, were involved in the incident.
According to separate statements from the agencies, King and White have been suspended, while Mulberry has placed Riddle on administrative leave awaiting an inquiry.
It is unclear whether the police have lawyers.
A number of violent interactions in recent years, many of which were captured on smartphone camera, have highlighted what critics call a trend of excessive force by US police enforcement, particularly against people of color.
The man who was observed being pummeled in Arkansas, as well as all three cops involved in the event, looked to be white.
Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was arrested and taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. He was later discharged from the hospital and arrested, according to the Arkansas State Police, who announced a use-of-force inquiry. He is facing a number of accusations, including second-degree battery.