CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ark. – Federal agents took two former Crawford County deputies seen beating a man during an August 2022 arrest into custody Tuesday afternoon.
The former deputies, 32-year-old Levi White and 27-year-old Zackary King, were fired by now-former Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante shortly after a cell phone video of them beating Randal Worcester while taking him into custody became viral.
They have each been charged with a single count of civil rights violation for using excessive force while arresting Worcester on Aug. 21, 2022. White and King each pleaded not guilty in the Western District of Arkansas federal court.
The grand jury indictment alleges they hit Worcester “multiple times” while he was lying on the ground, injuring him.
The video led to international interest in the arrest. In the video, the pair are seen punching Worcester while he is lying on the ground.
A third officer, Mulberry Police Department Officer Thell Riddle, is also seen on the video helping the two deputies restrain Worcester. Federal officials have not arrested Riddle.
All three officers were suspended after the incident.
The 27-year-old Worcester, from Goose Creek, South Carolina, was released on a $15,000 bond the day after his arrest. He reportedly needed medical treatment for injuries he suffered during the arrest before being taken to the county detention center.
Worcester was charged with terroristic threatening, battery, resisting arrest, possessing instruments of a crime, obstructing governmental operations and disorderly conduct. Court record show he is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing for these charges on April 4.
The Arkansas State Police opened a special investigation into the alleged beating on Aug. 22 at the request of Damante.
The sheriff’s office confirmed White and King’s termination in October. No specific date of termination was given, other than it took place “in the last few weeks” from that time.
Fort Smith attorneys Adam Rose and David L. Powell filed a lawsuit on behalf of Worcester on Aug. 29. alleging a civil-rights violation. The suit named the three officers, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and Mulberry Police Department, as well as the city of Mulberry.
Powell said at the time the force used against Worcester was “beyond excessive.”
Court records show Powell later withdrew as Worcester’s attorney in the civil rights case. A filing made in November 2022 by Rachel Bussett of the Bussett Legal Group as Worcester’s attorney asks for a delay in a trial date due to “a pending criminal investigation undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) involving the individual Defendants which will impact this case.”
A subsequent trial date was set for Worcester’s civil rights case was set for Sept. 11.
The trial date for White and King has been set for April 3 and a $5,000 bond has been set for both men.
The charging document was filed Jan. 11 in the United States District Court in the Western District of Arkansas. It is undersigned by two assistant U.S. attorneys and two attorneys from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
If found guilty White and King face a maximum sentence of 10 years, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.