Two more people have come forward to allege excessive force was used against them by one of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department deputies involved in the violent arrest of a man in Mulberry, Arkansas, last month.
Polly Risenhoover, 67, and Sarah Trammell, 44, each said they were forcibly handled during encounters with deputy Zach King, one of three Arkansas law enforcement officers whose conduct during the the arrest of Randal Worcester in August prompted state and federal investigations. Last month, a woman and man said Levi White, another deputy involved in the arrest, had also used excessive force against them on separate occasions.
Trammell said she feared for her life during her encounter with King, while Risenhoover said her interaction with the deputy left her so battered she required a lengthy hospital stay.
“I don’t think anything I did warranted this sort of pain toward me,” Risenhoover said. “It’s been a rough year.”
King, White and Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle drew condemnation, including from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month when they were recorded by a bystander, in a video that went viral, violently arresting Worcester. A spokesperson for the Arkansas State Police has said the officers were responding to a disturbance call when they came upon Worcester.
In the video, one of the officers is captured repeatedly punching and kneeing Worcester in the head before grabbing his hair and slamming him against the pavement. Another officer knees the man over and over, while a third holds him down.
Worcester’s attorneys previously told NBC News that his right ear was swollen and purple after the incident and he had abrasions to his knees and complained of pain in his head.
None of the three officers was wearing a body camera. Video from the Mulberry police vehicle’s dashcam has not been released publicly.
Risenhoover, Trammell and their attorneys say they hope that by speaking out, they will push the sheriff’s office to invest in body-worn cameras to promote accountability within the department and prevent others from facing abuse.
The attorneys, Carrie Jernigan and David Powell, said that since the arrest of Worcester, whom they are also representing, they have heard from a number of people from the community who have alleged abuse at the hands of deputies in Crawford County.
“What he did is essentially a battery,” said Powell, referring to King’s encounter with Risenhoover. “It’s evidence of excessive force by that officer. And it’s been allowed by that department.”
Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Russell Wood, an attorney for King and White, did not respond to a request for an interview about the allegations. The deputies have not spoken publicly about the incidents. King, White and Riddle were suspended while separate state and federal investigations are being conducted into their arrest of Worcester, according to their respective agencies and Hutchinson, who announced the investigations.
Risenhoover said deputies were at her home May 20, 2021, to a respond to a report of a man with a gun. A neighbor, she said, mistook her son’s BB gun for a real one.
According to an incident report, Risenhoover and her husband “were outside yelling and screaming” and did not comply with orders to come down from their porch and show their hands. King told the deputy who completed the incident report that Risenhoover had slapped him in the face. In an interview with NBC News, Risenhoover said she did not recall having done so.
“My husband and I were standing on the porch,” she said. “And my husband was being very mouthy and I guess it made them mad.”
While two other deputies handcuffed her husband, Risenhoover said King grabbed her by the face, pushed her down on her deck and kneed her in the ribs.
After she complained of being hurt, she was taken to the hospital but not arrested, according to the incident report.
Risenhoover said her life has changed dramatically since her encounter with King.
“The reason why I’m finally coming forward is I know how bad this has hurt me,” she said. “I feel like it has taken time off of my life. They say your golden years are supposed to be great but mine are not. I don’t want anyone to go through this.”
Powell said there needs to be accountability and that body-worn cameras and dashcams on deputies’ vehicles would make that easier to achieve.
“We want some justice for the people who have come forward,” Powell said. “Maybe this department needs to apply for state or federal funding and to put these things in place if their officers are going rogue like this.”
Trammell said she has bipolar disorder and was in psychosis when she was arrested by King on June 19. Her older sister, Crystal McCabe, said they were on the phone when Trammell ran out of gas and was in a manic state.
“She didn’t know where was,” McCabe said. “She was scared. And she thought she was in heaven.” McCabe said her sister was incoherent.
King was dispatched on a call about a white woman jumping into traffic and opening mailboxes. According to a probable cause affidavit written by King, when he arrived on the scene, a neighbor alleged that Trammell had gone into a stranger’s car and then into a van and stated that it was hers. King alleged in the probable cause affidavit that when he asked Trammell her name, she said “Sarah” and that when he asked her her last name, she looked down at his name tag and said “King.” Asked her date of birth, King also alleged in the affidavit that Trammell responded “today,” at which point he said that he told her to put her hands behind her back because she was under arrest and that she told him “no” and that he would have to drag her out of the van.
Trammell said in an interview that she believed King could be her husband because she was in a manic state. She denies any wrongdoing. She said she remembered King tasing her multiple times. “He threw me down on my belly,” she said. “And I just remember him being like, on top of me, and I just felt a lot of pressure and then the tasing.”
In the affidavit, King said Trammell kicked and slapped him while they were on the ground and he “dry stunned” her multiple times. He also alleges Trammell grabbed his taser with both hands, which she disputes.
King said he was able to handcuff Trammell with the help of a witness at the scene.
“I thought that he was going to kill me,” she said. “I felt my life was in danger.”
Trammell was arrested on several charges, including battery in the second degree, breaking or entering, unauthorized use of a vehicle and resisting arrest. She was released on bond last week. Powell said Trammell has yet to be formally charged.
Trammell’s family and Powell said King should have known she was not in the right state of mind and shown her compassion.
“I just feel like if he would have talked to me like I was a human being, and treated me as one and not as an animal or whatever, I feel like, things would have went differently,” she said. “I don’t feel like he gave me a chance to talk to him. I was scared.”
Trammell said she is disgusted by the various allegations of abuse that have been leveled publicly at deputies since Worcester’s arrest.
Risenhoover’s and Trammell’s allegations follow those of another woman and a man who said said last month that they, too, had been assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy during separate arrests.
Tammy Nelson said that she sustained bruises all over her body, including her knees, elbows, shoulders and arms when she was arrested Aug. 14 by White. White acted aggressively and kneed her next to her “private area,” she previously told NBC News. Her arrest stemmed from a civil matter related to an easement. She was charged with obstruction of government operation and harassment, both misdemeanors, she and her attorneys said. She has pleaded not guilty.
She said the sheriff’s office did not follow up on a verbal complaint she filed at the office a day after she was released from jail.
Teddy Wallace said White used a stun gun on him multiple times and beat him with a baton.
“I had a bunch of abrasions on my elbows, my knees. My legs were bruised,” Wallace said at a news conference last month. “I have a big bruise on my right arm. I just now got healed up from it all. My head was split open.”
Wood, the attorney for King and Crawford, had declined previously to comment on Nelson’s and Wallace’s allegations and referred NBC News to his law firm’s Facebook page.
A statement posted to that page referred to a news conference where Nelson and Wallace spoke out.
“It never fails that high profile matters bring out all sorts of people and their attorneys,” the statement said. “I did not see this show and have no comment on whatever allegations were lodged.”