COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said on Wednesday he has fired school resource officer Ben Fields after his actions inside a Spring Valley High School classroom on Monday.
The sheriff’s department conducted a swift internal affairs investigation after shocking videos surfaced that showed Fields slamming and dragging a female student in a math class on Monday afternoon.
“The maneuver that he [Fields] used was not based on the training and was not acceptable,” Lott said when revealing the findings of the investigation 48 hours after the incident occurred. “Deputy Ben Fields did wrong this past Monday, and we’re taking action for that.”
Lott also made a point to say the student should also be held accountable for her actions. “The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and not allowing the students to learn,” Lott said. “This incident started with a big, disruptive student in a class … she started this whole incident with her actions.”
“While the student’s actions do not justify some of the deputy’s actions, the school and administration must deal with that issue,” Lott said. “Our schools must have an educational environment. That is the responsibility of everyone: parents, students, teachers, administrators and SROs. When one element fails then the process of educating our students fail.
The investigation found Fields followed procedure until he used physical force. “He was allowed to put his hands on her. He told her she was under arrest. Then he threw her across the room. He did not follow proper procedure,” Lott said. “In my opinion Deputy Fields could have accomplished the arrest or handled the situation without some of the actions he did.”
A teacher and an administrator in the classroom supported Fields said he acted appropriately. “[They said] that he didn’t use excessive force. That he did what was necessary. That came from both of them who were present when this happened.”
“What he should not have done was throw the student,” the sheriff said. “When he threw her across the room, he lost control of her. That’s not acceptable.”
When Lott was asked by a member of the media if Fields, who was initially placed on unpaid leave, was remorseful about the incident, he said the now former deputy was not. “He is sorry that this whole thing occurred,” Lott said. “It was not his intent. He tried to do his job and that’s what he feels like he did. It happened very quickly.”
Lott said Fields told him if he had to do it over again, he’d probably have done it differently.
The first two videos show Fields approaching the girl sitting at a desk in a classroom. Fields grabs the girl’s arm while putting his own arm around the student’s neck.
However, a third video from Instagram shows Fields try and pick the female student out of her desk, but the student then hits the officer while he brings the desk to the ground.