Fact Check

Does Viral Video Show Arkansas Officers Severely Beating a White Man?

The three now-suspended officers were captured punching the back of Randall Worcester’s head.

Published Aug 22, 2022

 (Screengrab/Twitter)
Image Via Screengrab/Twitter
Claim:
Randall Worcester, a 27-year-old South Carolina man who was beaten before being arrested by Arkansas police officers, is white.
Context

The Associated Press reported that it had obtained jail booking information and confirmed that the suspect, Randall Worcester, was white. However, as of this writing, we were unable to independently verify his race, a question at the heart of some viral claims online.

Fact Check

A 34-second video that appears to show three white officers beating a man while in police custody went viral in mid-August 2022, once again prompting outcry over police brutality concerns. The arrest was recorded by a bystander in Crawford County, Arkansas, about 160 miles outside of Little Rock on Aug. 21 at 10:40 a.m.

The video was subsequently shared on social media by many users and reputable news outlets and institutions, including the civil rights organization NAACP. It was also shared to TikTok by user @anthonyjohnson520 and on Twitter by user @NaomiRHelm. As of this writing, it had been viewed more than 7.4 million times

Some social media users also posited that because the man was white, public outrage and demands for “justice” would not be as pressing as demonstrations following the killings in police custody of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were Black.

We know that the suspect in Arkansas is 27-year-old Randall Worcester of Goose Creek, South Carolina. The Associated Press reported, “Worcester is white, according to jail booking information, and the three officers involved also appear to be white.”

As of Aug. 22, the Arkansas State Police (ASP) had opened an investigation into the use of force by “two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a Mulberry police officer in the arrest of a South Carolina man.”

“Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina was transported to an area hospital for examination and treatment, then later released and jailed at Van Buren. Worcester is charged with 2nd degree battery, resisting arrest, refusal to submit, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening, and 2nd degree assault,” wrote the agency on its Facebook page.

Once completed, the case file will be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney, who will determine whether law enforcement officers' use of force was consistent with Arkansas laws.

In an email to Snopes, Bill Sadler of ASP redirected our team to the law enforcement agency that arrested Worcester. As of this publication, Worcester’s arrest records were not yet available online through the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department jail roster. We attempted to contact the sheriff’s office by phone and Facebook messenger. Our messages have gone unanswered.

crawford county sheriff department
Screengrab/Crawford County Sheriff’s Department

“Special agents of the state police charged with the responsive request of the Crawford County prosecuting attorney is limited in scope to the whether the use of force used by the law enforcement officers is or is not consistent with Arkansas laws,” Sadler told Snopes in an email.

“The Arkansas State Police has a long-standing practice, dating back more than 20 years, of declining any interviews following our acknowledgment of opening a criminal investigation. The basis for this decision lies in the Rules of Arkansas Criminal Procedure, specifically to avoid any improper statements that might compromise the integrity of the investigation always submitting to a prosecuting attorney of jurisdiction to determine whether any state laws have been violated.”

A search of the Arkansas Department of Corrections online roster also returned no results. We were told by phone that if Worcester appeared in court on Aug. 22, it may be too soon for his record to be available online, particularly if he hasn’t been formally charged and doesn’t have a previous incarceration record with the state. We will continue to monitor the records.

arkansas department of corrections
Screengrab/Arkansas Department of Corrections

Arkansas television station KSFM-TV reported that Crawford County Sheriff Jim Damante said authorities were called after a man allegedly spat on a convenience store employee and threatened to “cut off the employee’s face.” The man reportedly rode his bike to another location, where the three officers spoke with him calmly at first, then the man reportedly pushed one of the deputies to the ground. Worcester was arrested on suspicion of second-degree battery, resisting arrest, terroristic threatening, and second-degree assault, among other things. The nature of his of injuries was not made publicly available.

The officers were suspended and placed on paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference on Aug. 22. It was unknown how long the investigation was expected to take.

Our team was also sent below statement from Aug. 21:

STATE OPENS INVESTIGATION IN CRAWFORD COUNTY USE OF FORCE INCIDENT
AUGUST 21, 2022

The Arkansas State Police has opened an investigation into the use of force by two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies and a Mulberry police officer in the arrest of a South Carolina man. The incident occurred about 10:40 AM today outside a Crawford County convenience store in Mulberry.

The investigation was initiated at the request of the 21st Judicial District prosecuting attorney.

Randall Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina was transported to an area hospital for examination and treatment, then later released and jailed at Van Buren. Worcester is charged with 2nd degree battery, resisting arrest, refusal to submit, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, terroristic threatening, and 2nd degree assault.

The state police investigation will be limited to the use of physical force by the deputies and police officer. Upon completion of the investigation, the case file will be submitted to the Crawford County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of force by the law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Questions relating to the identity of the three law enforcement officers and their administrative status should be directed to their respective departments where they are employed.

Until our newsroom is able to independently verify the race of the suspect, we have rated this claim as “Research in Progress.”


Sources

“3 Arkansas Officers Suspended After Video Captures Beating.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2022/08/22/3-arkansas-officers-suspended-after-video-captures-beating/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

ADC. https://apps.ark.org/inmate_info/index.php. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

Crawford County Jail Inmates - Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. https://www.crawfordcountysheriff.org/inmates.asp. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=390945083151470&set=a.259044099674903. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

“Https://Twitter.Com/Asahutchinson/Status/1561783336510578691.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/asahutchinson/status/1561783336510578691. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

“Https://Twitter.Com/Martindaubney/Status/1561630911292231680.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/martindaubney/status/1561630911292231680. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

“Https://Twitter.Com/Naomirhelm/Status/1561436191895035904.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/naomirhelm/status/1561436191895035904. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

NAACP (@naacp) • Instagram Photos and Videos. https://www.instagram.com/naacp/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

Patel, Vimal. “Arkansas Police Investigate Use of Force in Arrest Caught on Video.” The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/us/arkansas-arrest-beating-video.html.

“STATE OPENS INVESTIGATION IN CRAWFORD COUNTY USE OF FORCE INCIDENT.” Arkansas Department of Public Safety, https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/news/state-opens-investigation-in-crawford-county-use-of-force-incident/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022.

“Video of Violent Arrest in Arkansas Sparks Outrage, Investigation into Use of Force Underway.” 5newsonline.Com, 6 Aug. 2022, https://www.5newsonline.com/article/news/special-reports/mulberry-police-video/mulberry-arkansas-police-video-deputies-suspended/527-5a29e96b-98d6-422d-b11d-e27264df091f.

5newsonline.Com, 6 Aug. 2022, https://www.5newsonline.com/article/news/special-reports/mulberry-police-video/mulberry-arkansas-police-video-deputies-suspended/527-5a29e96b-98d6-422d-b11d-e27264df091f.

Madison Dapcevich is a former writer for Snopes.

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