A man and a woman have come forward to allege that one of the Arkansas law enforcement officers seen in a viral video repeatedly punching a man’s head and smashing it into the pavement during an arrest Sunday violently assaulted them during separate arrests.
Teddy Wallace and Tammy Nelson said at a news conference Tuesday that they were both arrested recently by Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi White and that he used excessive force against them. Complaints filed with the sheriff’s office were ignored, they said.
White is one of three officers captured on a 34-second video a bystander recorded during the arrest of Randal Worcester on Sunday in the small town of Mulberry, about 137 miles northwest of Little Rock. The video sparked widespread outrage after it was posted on social media.
One of the officers is captured in the video punching and kneeing Worcester in the head over and over before grabbing his hair and slamming him against the pavement. At the same time, another officer knees Worcester repeatedly, while a third holds him down. A spokesman for the Arkansas State Police said the officers were responding to a disturbance call when they came upon Worcester.
White and the other officers — Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Zack King and Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle — have been suspended, and state and federal authorities have opened investigations into their actions.
Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was charged with second-degree battery, resisting arrest, terroristic threatening, second-degree assault, criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime, refusal to submit and criminal trespass. He was released on bond Monday.
None of the three officers was wearing a body camera, but the Mulberry police vehicle’s dashcam did record the incident, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said. That video has not been released publicly.
Wallace said his encounter with White last month looked like Worcester’s. He said the officer who beat him was “without a doubt” White. Wallace’s attorney, Carrie Jernigan, said White was responding to a domestic disturbance call.
The only difference between the two encounters, Wallace said, is that a stun gun was used on him multiple times while he was brutally beaten, including with a baton.
“I had a bunch of abrasions on my elbows, my knees. My legs were bruised,” Wallace said at Tuesday’s news conference, where he was joined by his attorneys. “I have a big bruise on my right arm. I just now got healed up from it all. My head was split open.”
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment about Wallace’s and Nelson’s allegations, nor to a request for arrest reports for either one.
Russell Wood, an attorney for the two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies, declined to comment on their allegations, referring NBC News instead to his law firm’s Facebook page.
A statement posted on the page Tuesday says: “It has come to my attention that there was some sort of a TikTok press conference or something today about this Crawford County matter. It never fails that high profile matters bring out all sorts of people and their attorneys. I did not see this show and have no comment on whatever allegations were lodged. I will release a detailed statement of exactly what happened in this case tomorrow.”
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Nelson, 49, said she was wearing only a nightgown during her arrest Aug. 14, which stemmed from a civil matter related to an easement. She said White immediately acted aggressively when he arrived at her home early that morning. She said he came at her, grabbed her right arm and slammed her to the ground. Nelson insisted she did not resist arrest. She said that at one point, while they were on the ground, her nightgown went up and she was exposed from the waist down. She said that left her feeling “humiliated,” “disrespected” and “violated.”
“He kneed me right next to my private area,” she said through tears.
Nelson said that she had bruising and swelling all over her body, including her knees, elbows, shoulders and arms, and that she still has the markings from handcuffs where the officer applied them tightly to her wrists. She was charged with obstruction of government operation and harassment, both misdemeanors, she and her attorneys said.
She said that she asked White multiple times why she was being arrested but that he refused to tell her. Nelson said she filed a verbal complaint at the sheriff’s office the next day after she was released from jail. She said that she followed up with a number of sheriff’s officials, as well, but that nothing was done and that she believes her complaint was not taken seriously.
“If they wouldn’t have ignored what just happened to me, this wouldn’t have happened to this 27-year-old kid,” she said, referring to Worcester. She said seeing the viral video of his arrest “made me mad.”
“Something has to be done,” she said. “It has to stop.”
Jernigan, who also represents Worcester, said an excessive force complaint she filed with the sheriff’s office on Wallace’s behalf in July also went unanswered.