Tag Archives: Spring Valley High School

South Carolina Sheriff Fires Deputy in Student Assault Investigation

School Resource Officer and Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was fired on Wednesday, after a video that showed him assaulting a female student in a classroom at Spring Valley High School went viral on Monday.

During a press conference at noon on Wednesday, Sheriff Leon Lott said that Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s department for violating policy and not using the proper techniques to arrest a student.

“Once he put her hands on her, he was allowed to do that,”  Lott said. “He placed her under arrest, he verbally told her that she was under arrest, he attempted to use force to make the arrest.”

[RELATED: Investigation Requested after Video shows Resource Officer Assaulting Student]

Lott explained that the “maneuver” used by Fields in which he flipped the student out of her desk and then threw her across the classroom, was not one that was taught in law enforcement training.

“That’s what caused me to be upset when I first saw that video, and what continues to upset me when I see that video, is the fact that he picked the student up and he threw the student across the room,” Lott said.

“That is not a proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement, and based on that, it is a violation of policy and approximately 20 minutes ago, school resource officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s department.”

Lott also said, however, that the student “was very disruptive” and disrespectful.

“We must not lose sight that this whole incident was started by this student. She is responsible for the initiation of this action. There is some responsibility falls on her. The action of our deputy, we take responsibility for that. But we also have to put responsibility on her,” he said.

Videos of the incident were released on Monday, and Lott requested that the FBI and the DoJ begin an independent investigation into Fields’ actions at Spring Valley High School. Federal authorities confirmed on Tuesday that the agencies have opened a civil rights probe into the arrest to determine if federal law was broken.

[RELATED: Officer in Student Assault Investigation Accused of Pepper Spraying Vet in 2005]

During a news conference on Tuesday, Lott said that in order to make a decision about Fields’ employment, the department needed to look at the whole picture.

“That’s not fair to fire somebody immediately when you have a snapshot of something. You have to do the investigation and get all the facts,” Lott said. “Again, from one snapshot, we saw one video that showed one thing, and then we get another video that shows her actually punching him.”

Lott said the department obtained an additional video showing the student punching Fields during the confrontation. However, that video has not been publicly released.

Investigation Requested after Video Shows Resource Officer Assaulting Student

Officials in South Carolina are calling for a federal investigation after cell phone video showed a police officer throwing a Spring Valley High School student out of her desk and dragging her across the classroom.

Multiple videos were taken by other students in the classroom of the encounter between the white male officer and a black female student. The videos begin by showing the officer walking up to the girl and telling her to get up and leave the classroom. Shortly after speaking to the girl, the officer is seen putting her in a chokehold and flipping her desk over while she is still sitting in it as he attempts to remove her from it.

Leon Lott, the Richland County sheriff, said that the officer, a deputy with the sheriff’s department, was responding to a disruptive student refusing to leave the classroom.

“The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”

Lott said he was “as upset as anybody and I’m very disturbed by what I saw,” and he has contacted the FBI to request an independent investigation into the incident.

“Appropriate action is going to be taken,” Lott said. “We’re going to do it as quick as possible. This isn’t something that’s going to linger on for weeks, or months or even days. It’s going to be done very swiftly.”

[UPDATE: Officer in Student Assault Investigation Accused of Pepper Spraying Vet in 2005]

The New York Times reported that Spring Valley High School is “a campus of about 2,000 students that is about 52 percent black and 30 percent white,” and that while officials have not released the names of either of the officer or the student, multiple students identified the officer as Ben Fields, a deputy who is assigned to the school.

One student who filmed the altercation, 18-year-old Niya Kenny, said she was also arrested for “disturbing schools” due to her reaction to the officer’s confrontation with the student.

“I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” Kenny said. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”

Kenny said the student was asked by the teacher to leave the classroom for not participating. Kenny said when the student refused, an administrator was called in followed by the resource officer. Regarding the use of force by the officer, Kenny said she had never seen anything like it before.

“I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kenny said. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like ‘no way, no way.’ You can’t do nothing like that to a little girl. I’m talking about she’s like 5’6″.”

A shorter video, seen below, shows the physical confrontation from a more direct angle following the verbal interaction.