The South Carolina deputy who is under investigation after videos circulated online showing him assaulting a female student in a classroom has a history of violence, according to a man who said he was assaulted by the officer in 2005.
Carlos Martin, a 36-year-old Army veteran, told New York Daily News that he filed a lawsuit against Ben Fields, the officer identified in the videos, after he was allegedly assaulted by Fields on Oct. 24, 2005.
Martin said that he had recently moved to Columbia, South Carolina, and was working at the Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson.
Fields, who had been responding to a separate complaint at the apartment complex Martin resided in, reportedly confronted Martin about playing loud music in his car.
Martin told the New York Daily News that an argument ensued, and Fields “snapped” after Martin called him “dude,” and slammed Martin on the ground.
Martin said Fields went on to use pepper spray on him and ended up using the entire can, which Martin said he was able to resist because of his military training. “He became even more violent because I didn’t react like most people would,” Martin explained.
Martin also said that his wife at the time, Tashiana Rogers, witnessed the assault, and came to the scene to take pictures with her cellphone. Martin claimed Fields told his partner to “get her black ass,” and the officer responded by taking Rogers’ phone and deleting the pictures.
Martin said that although he filed a lawsuit against Fields, and criminal charges against Martin and Rogers were ultimately dropped, it took four years for Martin’s case to go to trial. During that time, he was labeled as a criminal in the military. The lawsuit was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence of excessive force.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Monday that he requested the FBI launch an independent investigation into Fields’ actions at Spring Valley High School. Federal authorities confirmed on Tuesday that both the FBI and the DoJ have opened a civil rights probe into the arrest to determine if federal law was broken.