Aug. 22 (UPI) — Three Arkansas law enforcement officers have been relieved of their duties and are under investigation after they were captured in video by a bystander beating a suspect they were seemingly attempting to restrain.
Video of the Sunday incident was widely circulated online, showing two police officers repeatedly punch and knee the downed suspect in the head and back while a third appeared to be holding him down in a parking lot.
The officers have so far only been identified as two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a police officer with the Mulberry Police Department.
Their agencies separately announced the suspension of their officers later Sunday.
Mulberry Police Department said its officer has been placed on administrative leave while the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office said its involved officers have been suspended.
“I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter,” Crawford Country Sheriff Jimmy Damante said in a statement.
The incident occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Sunday outside of a Crawford County convenience store in Mulberry, the Arkansas State Police said in a statement late Sunday.
Mulberry is located about 25 miles east of Fort Smith on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.
Following his arrest, Worcester was transported to an area hospital for examination and treatment before being released into police custody and jailed in Van Buren County, authorities said.
Arkansas State Police said it has opened a use of physical force investigation into the incident, and once completed its findings will be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney who will determine if the conduct of three officers “was consistent with Arkansas laws.”
Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter said in a statement that he was aware of the video of the incident and was “shocked and sickened by what I saw.”
“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,” he said, adding that the appropriate actions will be taken following the completion of the state’s investigation.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Twitter that he’s spoken with state police, and that “the local arrest incident in Crawford County will be investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney.”