2nd former Arkansas officer pleads guilty to civil rights charge from violent arrest caught on video

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

Former Crawford County sheriff's deputy Levi White changed his plea during a hearing in federal court on Friday, according to court documents. White pleaded guilty to a felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law during the Aug. 21, 2022, arrest of Randal Worcester outside a convenience store.

White and another former deputy, Zackary King, 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. King on Monday pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

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. White also slammed Worcester's head onto the pavement.

A trial had been scheduled next month for White and King before the two changed their pleas. Sentencing hearings will be held later. White faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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 in 2022 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.