Crawford County residents say deputy in beating video attacked them

By: - August 23, 2022 5:28 pm
A woman and a man seated at a table with TV microphones in front of them.

Attorneys Carrie Jernigan and David Powell speak during a live televised press conference Tuesday. (Screen grab from KARK-TV live broadcast.)

Two Crawford County residents on Tuesday shared details of beatings they say they received at the hands of a sheriff’s deputy who can be seen in a video taken Sunday morning of officers subduing a man at a Mulberry convenience store.

During a live televised press conference, Teddy Wallace and Tammy Nelson of Rudy identified deputy Levi White as the law enforcement officer who assaulted them in separate incidents in July and earlier this month.

White is one of the three officers seen in a viral video holding down Randall Ray Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, and repeatedly striking him during an arrest Sunday.

The other officers are deputy Zack King and Mulberry police officer Thell Riddle. All three men are on administrative leave with pay while federal and state authorities investigate their encounter with Worcester for possible civil rights violations and use of excessive force.

Wallace and Nelson were accompanied during the press conference by attorneys Carrie Jernigan and David Powell, both of whom also represent Worcester.

“What I want is accountability,” Powell said of the reasons for holding the press conference. “There’s no dash cam, no body cam … .”

Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante could not immediately be reached for comment on the allegations made in the press conference.

Russell Wood, a Russellville attorney representing the two sheriff’s deputies, said he had not seen the press conference but wasn’t surprised.

“You get all kinds coming out of the woodwork when you have a high visibility case like this,” he said.

Jernigan said she’s known Wallace for years and said he was attacked during an arrest in July. Wallace’s family contacted her, she said, because they thought the attack was unprovoked.

White wasn’t the only officer involved in Wallace’s arrest, Wallace said during the press conference. He said he was tasered four times and struck numerous times with a baton.

“I was drug out of my yard,” and placed in a patrol car, Wallace told reporters, adding that he had abrasions and bruises.

Jernigan said that, after talking with Wallace and gathering information about his arrest, she filed a report with the sheriff’s office regarding the brutality inflicted on her client.

“We have great law enforcement in this county, and this is the first time in 15 years that I’ve filed an excessive force complaint,” Jernigan said.

Other than receiving documents she requested from the sheriff’s department under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, she said she’s received no response to her excessive force complaint.

After seeing the video of Worcester’s arrest, she realized that Levi White was the same officer who assaulted Wallace.

Wallace hasn’t been formally charged with any crime, 5 1/2 weeks after his arrest, she said.

“My hope is it stays that way.”

Teddy Wallace (left) and Tammy Nelson talk Tuesday (Aug. 23) about what they described as brutal treatment by a Crawford County deputy. They spoke during a live televised press conference with their attorneys. (Screen grab from KARK-TV live broadcast.)

White also attacked Nelson “nine days ago” at her home, Jernigan said.

Nelson said she was involved in a long-standing “civil matter” when White arrived at her home, looking angry. She said she also recognized him in the video of Worcester’s encounter as the deputy who “came onto my property, grabbed me by the elbow, turned me around and knocked my phone to the ground.”

The phone continued to record the sounds of her arrest.

The deputy wrapped his arm under her chin, lifted her up and threw her to the ground, she said.

“I’d just had surgery” on her sinuses, and the deputy’s move pushed her nose into the ground, she said.

After he handcuffed her, he told her to get up. When she said she couldn’t, he grabbed her by the handcuffs and yanked her to her feet.

In the recording of her arrest, which she played from her phone during the press conference, she could be heard asking several times why she was being arrested. No audible response could be heard.

She was booked for obstruction of government operations and harassment, she said.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of officers over the civil issue (with a neighbor), and this is the first time I was approached this way,” Nelson said.

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Sonny Albarado
Sonny Albarado

In his 50-year career, Sonny Albarado has been an investigations editor, a business editor, a city editor, an environmental reporter and a government reporter at newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. He retired from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2020 after serving as projects editor for 12 ½ years and returned to professional journalism in 2022 to lead the Arkansas Advocate. He is a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and a current member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.