S.C. sheriff fires officer who threw student across a classroom

A South Carolina police officer was fired Wednesday after videos emerged showing him yanking a high school student out of her chair and throwing her across a classroom earlier in the week.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that deputy Ben Fields, who is white, was fired from the department for using excessive force during the arrest of a black female student in a math class at Spring Valley High School.

The incident was captured on multiple cell phone videos and showed the officer asking the student to stand up before he grabbed the young woman and tossed her out of her chair. The deputy’s dismissal comes after the Justice Department’s office of civil rights, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, S.C., announced they were investigating the case involving Fields, a school resource officer at the high school.

[FBI, Justice Department investigating S.C. school resource officer]

Fields had been suspended without pay and banned from school district properties in the wake of the incident.

The videos recorded inside of Richland County’s Spring Valley High spread around the world on social media this week, prompting a federal civil rights inquiry and sparking outrage amid America’s ongoing debate on how law enforcement interacts with the communities they police.

Lott said that Fields had been posted at the high school for seven years and had served as an assistant football coach. Lott said that the classroom teacher and an administrator present during the incident said they appreciated Fields’ quick response — the student allegedly was disturbing the class — but the sheriff noted that Fields used improper force during the arrest.

“What she does is not what I’m looking at; what I’m looking at is what our student resource officer did,” Lott said.

“He was wrong in his actions and it was not what I expect of my deputies,” Lott said. “Deputy Fields did not follow proper training or procedures when he threw the student across the room. It continues to upset me that he picked the student up and threw her.”

Reposted from Washington Post: Read the whole article here


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