A federal investigation is underway after disturbing video emerged online of a South Carolina school resource officer violently throwing a student to the floor and dragging her across a classroom.
The incident occurred Monday at Spring Valley High School after the student refused to comply with directions from her teacher and a school administrator.
A student who witnessed the officer’s heavy-handed response told Gawker:
The girl was asked by the teacher Mr. Long to leave the classroom and go to the discipline office, she ignored him, then an administrator came in and asked her if he needed to get the resource officer. She ignored him and then the officer came in. He asked if she was gonna go or if he had to make her go. Then he grabbed her and pulled her out of her desk and she fell on the ground with the desk still on her. He then threw her across the room and then got on top of her. Another student tried to stand up for her, which also led to her arrest.
According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott the officer involved in the incident, Deputy Ben Fields, has been relieved of his school resource duties pending investigation.
“It’s very disturbing what happened. It’s something I have to deal with and that’s what we’re going to be doing,” Lott told local media.
It’s unclear from the video whether anything other than nonviolent insubordination was to blame for the officers’ decision to throw the minor to the floor. Federal investigators are currently investigating the incident for civil rights violations.
“The Columbia FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a student at Spring Valley High School,” FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas said in a statement Tuesday. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence in order to determine whether a federal law was violated. As this is an ongoing investigation, per Department of Justice policy we are unable to comment further at this time.”
According to former students, Fields has a history of getting physical with students.
“I was coming from lunch and saw Deputy Fields slam that pregnant woman. I was frozen in shock at how he was man handling her,” one former student said on Twitter of an incident that occurred “a few years ago.”
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