South Carolina Officer Fired For Throwing Student Across Floor in Classroom Arrest
The Richland, South Carolina deputy who was filmed slamming a student on a floor and throwing her across a class room has been fired, Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday.
Deputy Ben Fields violated police regulations when he threw the girl on Monday after he had been called to the Spring Valley High School classroom to address her reportedly disruptive behavior, Lott said during a press conference.
"The maneuver that he used was not based (on) training or acceptable. Our training unit looked at it, they examined it… their recommendation to me was that Deputy Fields did not follow proper training, did not follow proper procedure when he threw the student across the room,” Fields said.
But the teenager's lawyer, Todd Rutherford, told INSIDE EDITION that he thought more needed to be done to discipline Fields.
"I don't think that's enough. I think this officer should be treated like every other citizen out there," Rutherford said. "If this was her father and he walked into that classroom and did that he would be in jail as we speak."
Attorney Scott J. Hayes, a former Richland County deputy, is representing Fields and issued a statement late Wednesday, saying his client's "actions were carried out professionally and he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold."
Lott said that section of the video, which he called disturbing as a whole, upset him the most.
“From the very beginning that’s what’s caused me to be upset when I first saw that video, and 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,” the sheriff said. “That is not a proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement and based on that, that is a violation of our policy.”
The training unit wrote a report on Field’s actions during the incident, which Lott said would be made available to the public.
The violent video showed Fields picking up the 16-year-old student from her desk and throwing her across the floor after she reportedly refused to hand over her cell phone.
The girl allegedly did not respond to a request from the school resource officer to stand up, authorities said. Fields had been called to the room because the student was reportedly acting up in class.
The 16-year-old girl in the video and another student, identified as Niya Kenny, 18, were arrested and charged with disturbing schools.
Lott said that the charges against the students still stand.
“They still need to be held accountable for their actions,” Lott said. “What Deputy Fields did doesn’t excuse them from what they did.”
The FBI will decide whether to charge Fields for his actions, Lott said, who noted it was not hard to decide to fire Fields.
“When he put his hands on her and when he threw her across the room… that’s when I made my decision,” he said.
Fields has previously been accused of excessive force and targeting black suspects, but Lott said at a previous press conference that he had not ever seen the deputy exhibiting racist behavior and did not believe Fields’ actions were racially motivated because he has been “dating an African-American woman for quite some time.”
A lawsuit previously brought against Fields in connection with the alleged use of excessive force was dismissed.
Lott advised citizens to continue filming what they believe to be improper behavior by police.
“Film it. Film it and give us an opportunity to address it… I can’t fix problems if I don’t know about it,” he said.
“Our citizens should police the police. That’s what citizens should do.”