South Carolina officer fired for violent student arrest | News | DW | 28.10.2015
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South Carolina officer fired for violent student arrest

In another case highlighting excessive use of force by white police officers against black citizens in the US, a deputy in South Carolina has been discharged. Ben Fields is also being probed for civil rights violations.

Ben Fields, a white sheriff's deputy who is under federal investigation for his violent arrest of a black high school student in Columbia, South Carolina, was fired on Wednesday. Sheriff Leon Lott (pictured above) announced at a press conference that he had let Fields go for violating police department policy.

In mobile phone footage taken on Monday that spread like wildfire on social media, Fields can be seen arguing with a student, seated at her desk, who was caught texting in class. When she refuses to hand over her phone, Fields flips her backwards in her desk and drags to the front of the classroom before handcuffing her.

Not caught on video is Fields, 34, arresting a second student who questioned the officer's response.

"That is not proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement," Lott said. "And based on that, that is a violation of our policy, and approximately 20 minutes ago, school resource officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff's Department."

Lott added that while the student "started the whole instance" with her disruptive actions and refusing to listen to her teacher, Fields still acted inappropriately and had to be terminated. Lott also told reporters that a third video of the incident, which has not been made public, shows the girl trying to strike the officer.

Sheriff Lott also said the teacher and administrator who called Fields to the scene did not see a problem with his handling of the incident, considering the girl's behavior, but that the final word on Fields' fate was up to him.

Fields already charged with racial bias

Fields is also under investigation by the FBI and the US Justice Department, at the behest of Lott, to determine whether or not he violated the civil rights of the 16-year-old student. This is not Fields' first brush with such complaints, he is set to stand trial in January over allegations he targeted African American students with false accusations of gang membership.

Lawyers said the student, whose name has not been released, had her arm in a cast and had suffered minor back and neck injuries as well as rug burn, but that she was otherwise unharmed.

es/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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