Caught on Camera
Three Arkansas law enforcement officers — two Crawford County deputies and a Mulberry police officer — were suspended Sunday following outrage over a video posted on social media appearing to show them savagely beating a shoeless man, including slamming his heading the concrete. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the incident, which took place at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday outside a convenience store in the town of Mulberry.
The woman who filmed the police beating sent it to her sister in Oklahoma, Naomi Johnson, who posted it on social media. Johnson said her sister told her that before violence, the shoeless man, who appeared to be in mental distress, was sitting on the curb talking to law enforcement officers, stood up and appeared set to run away, and was tackled by the officers, the Arkansas Times repots.
"While the captured footage certainly doesn't tell the whole story, it's hard to see how a shoeless, mentally distressed man could warrant such brutality," Austin Bailey writes at the Arkansas Times.
According to police, the man had been reported to be making threats to a convenience store employee, and when officers confronted him, he pushed a deputy to the ground and punched him in the back of his head, The Associated Press reports. The man, who was arrested and taken to a local hospital, faces charges of terroristic threatening, resisting arrest, and assault.
Then the video went viral. "I hold all my employees accountable for their actions and will take appropriate measures in this matter," Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said Sunday evening, adding that along with the Arkansas State Police investigation, the sheriff's office will conduct its own inquiry. Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory said "the city of Mulberry and the Mulberry police department takes these investigations very seriously," and the officer will be on leave until the investigation in complete.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted that "the local arrest incident in Crawford County will be investigated pursuant to the video evidence and the request of the prosecuting attorney."