LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A police officer who appears to choke a skateboarder and put two others in a headlock in a video posted online has been put on administrative leave while police investigate, officials said.
Hot Springs Mayor Mike Bush said Tuesday that investigators have talked with witnesses who saw the officer, Joey Williams, stop the skateboarders on a downtown city sidewalk last Thursday. Skateboarding is banned in the area.
The video shows Williams apparently choking one of the skateboarders after forcing him to the ground, then later chasing and wrestling two others while holding them in a headlock.
"Unfortunately, the video shows it pretty good," Bush said.
Bush said he won't be sure of the city's next step until the investigation is complete. The video, taken by Matthew Jon McCormack and another unidentified skater, was posted Monday on YouTube, a popular Internet site.
Williams can be heard threatening one person with pepper spray if he moved, and several voices are heard asking why they were being arrested. One person can be seen running from Williams, and Williams later tells them they are fleeing and acting disorderly.
Williams did not answer a request through the department for an interview and did not respond to a phone message left at a home number in his name.
Police spokesman McCrary Means identified two of those arrested as McCormack, 21, and Skylar Nalls, 19, both of Hot Springs. McCormack faces a misdemeanor battery charge after allegedly pushing or striking a 67-year-old city employee during the altercation, Means said. Nalls was cited for skateboarding and faces misdemeanor charges of fleeing and obstructing governmental operations.
Four juveniles involved in the incident also face skateboarding citations and resisting arrest charges, Means said.
McCormack disputed many of the police allegations, especially his battery charge. He said he pulled on the city employee's arm after the man picked a girl off her feet in a choke-hold.
Hot Springs is a resort town about 50 miles west of Little Rock.