HomeArkansas newsAccountability in law enforcement: Former Arkansas deputies plead guilty to civil rights...

Accountability in law enforcement: Former Arkansas deputies plead guilty to civil rights violations in federal court

Arkansas – Two former Arkansas deputies have admitted to federal civil rights offenses. The former Crawford County sheriff’s deputies, Levi White, aged 34, and Zackary King, aged 28, entered guilty pleas concerning their use of unlawful force during an arrest incident, bringing attention to the severity of their actions against an individual in custody.

Use of Excessive Force Caught on Video

The case revolves around a distressing incident that occurred on August 21, 2022, when the deputies, along with a third officer, were responding to a disturbance at a local gas station. They were investigating a report of a person threatening a store attendant. During the incident, a man identified in court documents as R.W. initially lunged and tackled Deputy White. Although quickly subdued and pinned to the ground by all three officers, the situation escalated unnecessarily.

According to official reports, after R.W. was restrained and ceased resisting, Deputy King engaged in an act of excessive force by kicking R.W. in the back and striking him in the midsection with his fist. Simultaneously, Deputy White inflicted multiple blows, punching R.W. at least nine times in the head, and, in a particularly violent act, lifted R.W.’s head and slammed it back onto the pavement. This brutal treatment resulted in significant head injuries for R.W. Notably, the third officer involved did not participate in striking R.W.

Legal Repercussions and Wider Implications

“The videos from this incident are a shocking display of the violent deprivation of civil rights committed by these officers,” U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas stated. He emphasized the commitment to pursuing justice vigorously in cases where civil rights violations occur, asserting, “No person in police custody should ever feel threatened or should ever experience violence at the hands of those who are sworn to protect the public.”

Also read: Methamphetamine trafficker sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison

Echoing the sentiment of a breach of duty, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division remarked, “The defendants swore an oath to uphold the law, then violated that oath and abused their power by assaulting a person who was pinned to the ground and not resisting.” She highlighted the serious consequences awaiting the defendants, reflecting the Justice Department’s dedication to curbing excessive force within law enforcement.

The incident not only highlights individual misconduct but also casts a shadow over broader law enforcement integrity. “Disgraceful actions, like those of the two Crawford County sheriff’s deputies, negatively impact all members of Arkansas law enforcement,” stated FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Alicia D. Corder. She underscored the ongoing efforts to restore public trust in law enforcement through diligent oversight and accountability.

The sentencing hearings for White and King will be scheduled at a later date. White faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while King could be sentenced to a maximum of one year. Both could also face substantial fines and supervised release, pending a federal judge’s assessment based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. This case serves as a crucial reminder of the ongoing need to maintain ethical standards within the law enforcement community and the importance of holding officers accountable for their actions.

Olivia Martinez



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