Former Arkansas Officer Pleads Guilty To Civil Rights Violation In Violent Arrest Caught On Video

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas law enforcement officer has pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a man he kicked and hit during a violent arrest in 2022 that was caught on video and shared widely.

Former Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy Zackary King changed his plea during a hearing in federal court on Monday. King agreed to plead guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law during the Aug. 21, 2022, arrest of Randal Worcester outside a convenience store.

King and another former deputy, Levi White, were charged by federal prosecutors last year for the arrest. A bystander used a cellphone to record the arrest in the small town of Mulberry, about 140 miles (220 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, near the border with Oklahoma.

Federal prosecutors agreed to drop a felony count of deprivation of rights against King. He faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, according to his plea agreement. He also agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

“We just felt like it was a good way for Mr. King to move on with his life and not be saddled with the possibility of a felony,” Bill James, King's attorney, said Tuesday.

The trial for King and White had been set to begin next month. White has pleaded not guilty. An attorney for White did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday morning.

A third officer caught in the video, Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle, was not charged in the federal case. King and White were fired by the Crawford County sheriff. The video depicted King and White striking Worcester as Riddle held him down.

Police have said Worcester was being questioned for threatening a clerk at a convenience store in the nearby small town of Alma when he tackled one of the deputies and punched him in the head before the arrest. Worcester is set to go to trial in July on charges related to the arrest, including resisting arrest and second-degree battery.

Worcester filed a lawsuit against the three officers, the city of Mulberry and Crawford County over the arrest. But that case has been put on hold while the criminal cases related to the arrest are ongoing.