Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been removed from duty pending an investigation after a bystander's video showed them brutally beating a man during an arrest on Sunday, officials said.
The video, which has circulated widely on social media, shows the three officers pinning a barefoot man to the ground. They are seen repeatedly punching him in the face, slamming his head into the sidewalk, and kneeing him all over his body. (Warning: This video is disturbing.)
In the video, a woman can be heard offscreen shouting to the officers, "Don't beat him, he needs his medicine!"
One of the officers, upon appearing to notice they are being recorded from a nearby car, can be heard yelling to the filming bystander, "Back the fuck up!"
Two of the officers, who are deputies with the Crawford County Sheriff's Office, have been suspended, officials said. The third, a Mulberry Police Department officer, has been placed on administrative leave.
"I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter," the Crawford County sheriff said in a statement.
Gary D. Baxter, the mayor of Mulberry, said in a statement that he was "shocked and sickened" by the video and took action as soon as he became aware of it.
"I want to assure you, the citizens of Mulberry, and those who visit our city, that Mulberry Police Officers will treat all people with dignity and respect," Baxter wrote. "Should this ever show to not be the case action will be immediate and decisive."
The incident is now under investigation by the Arkansas State Police, the department said.
"I have spoken with Col. Bill Bryant of the Arkansas State Police and the local arrest incident in Crawford County will be investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet confirming the investigation.
According to the Arkansas State Police, the incident occurred Sunday morning outside a convenience store in Mulberry. The man, 27-year-old Randal Ray Worcester of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was treated at a nearby hospital, then taken to the Crawford County Jail.
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante told local ABC affiliate 40/29 News that a clerk at a gas station in nearby Alma called police after Worcester allegedly threatened him. Worcester left the business and biked to the convenience store in Mulberry, where police located him.
Worcester initially cooperated with the officers, but then allegedly became violent and tried to attack them, Damante said, adding that the video began after this point. One of the deputies suffered a minor head injury, Damante told the outlet.
The bystander's video does not confirm the sheriff's allegations of Worcester's actions. In the video, Worcester appears to be pinned to the concrete and largely unable to move much more than attempting to shield his face with his hands as the officers beat him repeatedly.
Worcester is being held on charges of second-degree battery, first- and second-degree assault, resisting arrest, possession of an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, second-degree criminal mischief, and terroristic threatening.
He is being held on a $15,000 bond, according to jail records. It is not clear whether he has an attorney.
The video was first posted to TikTok on Sunday, after which it spread widely across social media. The individual who first posted the video later removed it from TikTok, and they did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
It is unclear whether any additional footage of the incident, such as from police body cameras, exists. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and Mulberry Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.