A graphic video showing Arkansas officers punching and kicking a prone suspect sparked outrage on social media.
Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been suspended after graphic video surfaced on social media showing the violent arrest of a man who appears to be repeatedly punched in the head and kicked while lying prone in a parking lot.
The officers were responding to a call about a man making threats outside a store Sunday in Mulberry, a small town near the Oklahoma border, authorities said.
Arkansas State Police are investigating the use of force and identified the man who was being arrested as Randal Worcester, 27, of South Carolina. Federal authorities have begun a separate civil rights investigation into the incident.
“The FBI and the Arkansas State Police will collect all available evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the Justice Department said in a statement Monday. “The federal investigation is separate and independent from the ongoing state investigation.”
The video, recorded from a nearby car, appears to show one officer punching the man with his fist and slamming the man's head into the pavement while another is seen kicking the man with his knee. A third officer appears to be holding the man against the ground.
As of Tuesday, the video of the incident had been viewed nearly one million times.
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said in a statement that two of his deputies have been suspended with pay pending the investigations. He identified them as Levi White and Zack King.
"I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter," Damante said.
The Mulberry Police Department said one of its officers, Thell Riddle, had been placed on leave pending the investigations. Chief Shannon Gregory said in a statement that the community and the department take the matter “very seriously.”
An attorney for the deputies, Russell Wood, said the suspect had initiated the violence by attacking deputy White and giving him a concussion.
The man “became irate and viciously attacked Deputy White by grabbing him by the legs, lifting him up and body-slamming him, headfirst, on the concrete parking lot,” Wood said. After White hit his head on the ground, the suspect began "striking him on the back of the head and face,” the attorney said his client told him.
Those events are not seen on the bystander's video posted to Twitter.
Worcester was taken to a hospital Sunday and released Monday on $15,000 bail. He has been charged with multiple counts including second-degree battery, resisting arrest and making terroristic threats, according to state police.
His attorneys told reporters that a woman heard yelling on the video for the officers to stop hitting Worcester may have prevented him from being seriously injured.
“The fight was escalating with those officers, and you hear that woman on that video yelling and whoever that is, I think she could have saved his life,” said lawyer Carrie Jernigan.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a Monday press conference that federal authorities were investigating the "reprehensible conduct" of the officers and said their actions were "not consistent" with Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy practices.
Warning: Graphic Content