The South Carolina law enforcement officer who was caught on tape dragging a black teenaged girl from class has been fired. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters he fired Ben Fields, school resource officer at Spring Valley High School, for using unjustified force against a student whose teacher called her out for misbehavior. Another student in the classroom captured the incident on her cell phone. The video was shared widely across social media, where calls to fire Fields and to support the student spread quickly.
The student in the video had refused to leave the classroom after being asked four or five times, according to some reports. She had been texting in class and refused to stop. The teacher and a school administrator called in SRO Fields, who ask her to leave. Then, he put his hands on the student, which is where a swift sheriff's department internal affairs investigation determined Fields when wrong.
As seen in one of several videos of the incident to surface, Fields grabbed the girl's arm and put his own arm around her neck. He's then seen attempting to yank her from her desk, thereby turning it over with her in it. He pulls her out and drags her to the front of the room
Sheriff Lott said the student will also be held accountable for her actions, telling reporters she was not allowing the teacher to teach or other students to learn. "This incident started with a big, disruptive student in a class ... she started this whole incident with her actions," Jason Old reported for WSFB.
He said, however, that her actions do not justify what the deputy did. "What he should not have done was throw the student," Lott said. "When he threw her across the room, he lost control of her. That's not acceptable."
The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are now investigating the incident.
Another student in the classroom, Nia Kenny, told the Washington Post that Officer Fields arrested her for disturbing schools when she stood up for the girl in the video. Kenny had captured the incident and can be heard in her video swearing and asking what was happening. She told reporters she was pray out loud for the girl. "I just couldn't believe this was happening. I was just crying," Kenny said. "And he was like, 'Since you have so much to say, you are coming too.'"
She said she put her hands behind her back and did not resist. She was released on $1,000 bond.
Reactions to the arrest were collected under the hashtag "#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh," including this from Jotaka Eaddy, formerly of the NAACP: "There is nothing that child could have said to deserve that treatment. NOTHING."
The classroom teacher and an administrator who witnessed the assault said they supported SRO Fields, Old wrote, and that he had acted appropriately.