By Sandy Malone and Christopher Berg
Crawford County, AR – Attorneys for a man whose violent arrest video went viral have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the law enforcement officers who arrested him.
The complaint said the female gas station clerk in Alma told officers that Worcester spit at her and told her that he would cut her face off when she told him that he couldn’t loiter outside the gas station.
The deputies and officer found Worcester in a gas station in Mulberry and tried to arrest him, but the suspect resisted.
Worcester pushed one of the deputies to the ground and started punching him in the back of his head.
Cell phone video of the arrest captured by a bystander didn’t show Worcester’s initial attack on the deputy.
In the video, one of the officers repeatedly delivered closed-fist strikes to Worcester’s head and slammed his head into the pavement.
A second officer could be seen trying to gain control of Worcester’s right arm as a third officer used his knee to strike the suspect’s leg.
After Worcester was taken into custody, he was transported to the hospital.
They are not all good. This happened this morning in Mulberry Arkansas. Police acted fast. 2 of the 3 officers have already been suspended. Both Sheriffs deputies. No word on Mulberry Police officer. pic.twitter.com/RvNEpZ4WYm
— Steve Oatley (@steveoatley) August 21, 2022
Worcester faces charges of second-degree burglary, resisting arrest, refusal to submit, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening, and second-degree assault, according to Fort Smith Times Record.
After the video was posted to social media, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante issued a statement saying that his deputies would be suspended pending an investigation by Arkansas State Police (ASP), according to ABC News.
The lawsuit filed by attorneys for Worcester on Aug. 30 named Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi White, Crawford County Sheriff’s Corporal Zack King, and Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle, as well as their respective departments, the sheriff, and the police chief, KFSM reported.
Worcester’s attorneys alleged in their complaint that both Worcester’s Fourth Amendment rights and Fourteenth Amendment rights (were violated during his arrest.
The suit seeks damages for “negligence, assault, excessive force, and battery,” KFSM reported.
Attorneys for Worcester complained the law enforcement officers never tried to use pepper spray or a Taser to de-escalate the situation.
The deputies were not carrying Tasers, KFSM reported.
The lawsuit alleged Officer Riddle was “inadequately” supervised by Mulberry Police Chief Gregory and that the police chief “deliberately indifferent.”
It also accused Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante of having ignored prior use-of-force complaints about Deputy White and Cpl. King, KFSM reported.
Several citizens have given interviews since the cell phone video was released and claimed they were also mistreated during recent arrests that involved Deputy White and complained about it.
But Deputy White has never been charged with a crime, according to KFSM.
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it was launching an investigation into the incident, KFSM reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also launched a separate investigation.
Deputies do not wear bodycams but the Mulberry police officer’s vehicle was equipped with a dashcam.
Attorneys for Worcester are calling for the dashcam video to be released, KFSM reported.
The sheriff’s department has said the officer’s dashcam is key to showing what led up to the violent arrest show in the cell phone video.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called the incident “reprehensible,” KFSM reported.