Aug 31, 2022 - News

Man whose Arkansas arrest video went viral sues officers

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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The man whose arrest video in Mulberry, Arkansas, went viral this month after it indicated he was beaten by law enforcement officers is suing local law enforcement.

What's happening: Lawyers for Randal Worcester have filed a civil lawsuit against Mulberry police officer Thell Riddle, Crawford County deputies Zack King and Levi White, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante and Mulberry police chief Shannon Gregory in their official capacities, according to a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

  • The lawsuit also names the sheriff's office, police department, city and county.

What they're saying: The lawsuit argues that Worcester's Fourth Amendment rights (unreasonable searches and seizures) and Fourteenth Amendment rights (the right for everyone to be protected equally under the law) were violated during the mid-August incident.

  • It also accuses the defendants of negligence, battery and assault.
  • The complaint says Worcester "sustained serious bodily harm, permanent injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering."

The other side: The Crawford County Sheriff's office and the Mulberry Police Department did not immediately respond to calls from Axios. The deputies' lawyer, Russell Wood, declined to comment, but pointed to a statement on his Facebook account:

"I have not had an opportunity to read the federal lawsuit filed by Worcester.  However, even violent felons have a right to file whatever lawsuits they want in America. I will vigorously defend the lawsuit like I do every lawsuit against my law enforcement officers."

Yes, and: Worcester is requesting "compensatory and punitive damages" against the defendants as well as lost wages, medical bills and legal fees.

Background: Damante said in video statement that prior to the incident with police officers, Worcester threatened a gas station employee with a knife, telling her he would cut her face, and spit on her.

  • He said Worcester "aggressively tackled one of the deputies, slamming that deputy's head into the concrete causing a serious concussion. The criminal then punched the deputy in the head" before the citizen who filmed the incident began recording.

Catch up quick: The video, which shows the officers kneeing and punching Worcester, circulated quickly on social media on Aug. 21. The FBI, Department of Justice and Arkansas State Police are investigating.

  • The officers involved in the incident are on paid leave.
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