Man beaten in violent arrest video in Arkansas sues officers

Attorneys for a man who was beaten and held down by three law enforcement officers in Mulberry, Arkansas, during an arrest this month that was caught on a widely seen video recorded by a bystander have filed a federal lawsuit against the officers.

The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of Randal Worcester, whose Aug. 21 arrest has prompted state and federal investigations. It names Crawford County sheriff’s deputies Zack King and Levi White and Thell Riddle of the Mulberry Police Department as defendants, as well as the city of Mulberry, its police chief, Crawford County and its sheriff.

The city of Mulberry, Crawford County and its sheriff, Jimmy Damante, did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday. Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory said “I have no comment at this time.” Phone numbers listed for Riddle have been disconnected.

Russell Wood, an attorney for King and White, referred NBC News to his law firm’s Facebook page, where a post published Tuesday reads, in part: “I have not had an opportunity to read the federal lawsuit filed by Worcester. …I will vigorously defend the lawsuit like I do every lawsuit against my law enforcement officers.”

The lawsuit accuses the officers of violating Worcester’s constitutional rights.

“Any reasonable law enforcement officer should have known that his conduct violated clearly established federal law and was a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states.

Worcester is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as money for medical bills, lost wages and attorney’s fees and costs.

A spokesman for the Arkansas State Police has said the officers were responding to a disturbance call when they came upon Worcester in Mulberry, about 137 miles northwest of Little Rock. One of the officers is captured in the video punching and kneeing Worcester in the head over and over before grabbing his hair and smashing his head into the pavement. At the same time, another officer knees Worcester repeatedly, while a third holds him down. All three officers have been suspended.

Carrie Jernigan and David Powell, Worcester’s attorneys, previously told NBC News his right ear was swollen and purple, he complained of pain in his head, and he had abrasions to his knees after the incident. At one point during the encounter, his eye was gouged, Powell said.

“Lots of things happened to him that should not have happened,” Powell said.

Damante and Wood have said Worcester was being questioned for threatening a clerk at a convenience store in a nearby city. Prior to the bystander video, Damante said Worcester had tackled one of the deputies and punched him in the head — allegations Worcester’s attorneys have disputed. The deputy suffered a concussion, Damante and Wood have said. Damante has said that before the arrest, Worcester gave the officers a false name and had handed over a knife. None of the three officers was wearing a body camera, but the Mulberry police vehicle’s dash camera did record the incident, Damante said. That video has not been released publicly.

Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was charged with second-degree battery, resisting arrest, terroristic threatening, second-degree assault, criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime, refusal to submit and criminal trespass. He was released on a $15,000 bond.

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