Deputy on leave after video from classroom surfaces

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Deputy on leave after video from classroom surfaces.

Update, 11:00 p.m.: The New York Daily News reports that this is not the first violent altercation the officer in question, Ben Fields, has been involved in. COLUMBIA, S.C. • A South Carolina school district banned a school resource officer pending an investigation after a video surfaced Monday showing him tossing a student across a classroom floor.

Ben Fields, the behemoth Richland County Sheriff’s Office deputy captured in shocking video taking down a black high school senior, is a conditioning coach that can squat a whopping 940 pounds and bench press at least 600 pounds. Senior Deputy Ben Fields of the Richland County, S.C., Sheriff’s Department has been placed on administrative duties with pay because of the incident, reports TheState.com. When she refuses to leave her seat in a classroom at Spring Valley High, he tells her: “I’ll make you.” He wraps his arm around her neck, flips her desk backward, then drags her across the floor before arresting her and a male student. A spokeswoman for the school district, Libby Roof, said on Monday night that the administration was “deeply concerned”. “We are investigating it, along with the sheriff’s office,” she said.

Fields is on administrative leave from the Sheriff’s Office pending an internal investigation into his witnessed conduct, but it’s not clear if Fields still has his position as the school’s defensive line football and strength coach. It isn’t clear whether Fields was volunteering as a coach or getting paid, but either way it’s hard to imagine a situation where a male administrator, teacher, or coach—paid or unpaid—can engage in a physical altercation with a female student for any reason at all aside from self-defense. The group formed a year ago with a dozen or so members and now has 5,700 on its rolls. “We formed because it was so obvious the white parents were getting the best access and opportunities. It’s there Principal Karen Beaman gave Fields the Culture of Excellence Award in 2014 for being an “exceptional role model to the students he serves and protects.” A former Spring Valley student accused Fields of harboring a racial bias in the past. But we are a community of black parents who want to get involved,” Gilchrist said. “The problem is widespread.” Fields has a history of alleged aggression during arrests.

That student is suing the 11-year Richland County veteran for targeting black students — who make up 52% of the student body. “Fields unfairly and recklessly targets African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity,” attorney Reginald Lloyd wrote in a filing last year. According to federal court papers a man named Carlos Martin sued Fields for pepper spraying him and roughing up his wife after he pulled his car into a parking lot playing loud music. As reported by local station WISTV, Richland County sheriff Leon Lott says the officer was purportedly “acting in response to a student who was refusing to leave class.” “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.”

Wilson said later that Lott, who is attending an out-of-town conference, “was very disturbed’ by the video but asked for public patience during the investigation. The speed of demographic change in the school system surprised the entire community — parents, administrators, voters — and led to conflict among black and white groups. Another female student was also charged with disturbing schools, but Wilson said that was not the person who recorded the video. (Wilson had earlier said the second student was male, but later clarified.) Wilson said the sheriff, who is out of town at a law enforcement conference, is asking for patience while an investigation takes place, and that Lott was taken aback by what’s being shown to the public. “He was disturbed by what he saw,” Wilson said. “He has questions. After the formation of Richland Two Black Parents Association, another group sprang up, which Gilchrist said is commonly known as the Bipartisan White Citizens Committee, although the local newspaper uses the name “Bipartisan Committee”.

Roof also said that pending the results of an investigation with the sheriff’s department, the district has directed that the officer not return to any school in the district.

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