Sheriff fires deputy for tossing teen across classroom

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Deputy in S.C. classroom arrest video fired.

A South Carolina police officer was fired Wednesday after videos emerged showing him yanking a high school student out of her chair and throwing her across a classroom earlier in the week, officials announced at a noon news conference.Senior sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields was sacked on Wednesday, after shocking footage showed him flinging the girl and dragging her across the floor at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina on Monday.

Lott thanked the FBI for investigating whether civil rights were violated, and school officials for promising to review how police are used for discipline. “They need to understand that when they call us, we’re going to take a law enforcement action,” Lott said. “Maybe that ought to have been something handled by the school without ever calling the deputy.” The sheriff also had stern words for the student who started the confrontation by refusing to hand over her cellphone after her math teacher saw her texting in class — a violation of school policy. Columbia lawyer Todd Rutherford told Good Morning America that Fields should have been fired as soon as officials saw the video, which quickly went viral and sparked a firestorm of controversy. Both she and another student who verbally challenged the officer’s actions during the arrest still face misdemeanor charges of disturbing schools, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail, Lott said, although in most cases, judges impose alternative sentences that keep students out of jail. “The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and not allowing the students to learn.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, that Fields was fired from the department.(Photo: Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department) COLUMBIA, S.C. Almost 31,000 “school resource officers” or other law enforcement officers are stationed at U.S. public schools, with another 13,060 sworn law enforcement officers spending at least part of their time at schools, according to U.S.

Videos taken by students and posted online show Fields warning the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed after she apparently texted in class and refused to surrender her phone to the teacher. As federal, state and local authorities investigate the incident and the deputy’s actions, the rest of us must react as we did after the Charleston shootings in April and June and the statewide floods in October. When she didn’t get up from her desk, the cop wrapped a forearm around her neck, flipped her and the desk backward onto the floor, tossed her toward the front of the classroom and handcuffed her.

But again, she needs to be held responsible for what she did.” “I can’t fix problems if I don’t know about it,” Lott said. “I would say that every citizen with a camera, if they see something that’s going on that disturbs them, they should film it. Americans have grown accustomed to the presence of armed and uniformed officers in schools since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and numerous school shootings since.

But the viral video of the officer dragging the student from her chair, tossing her to the floor and arresting her for refusing to leave the room underscored the reality that many schools rely on police to do more than protect students from outside threats. Lott said the video made him want to “throw up”, but also pointed out that the girl can be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down. The ACLU and other officials tracking the use of police in schools bemoan what they call a “school-to-prison pipeline” that prioritizes incarceration over education, especially for at-risk or minority students.

We had similar discussions in April after a white North Charleston police officer shot an unarmed black man; in June after a young white man massacred nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston; and just a few weeks ago after widespread flooding damaged thousands of homes and left at least 19 dead statewide. It continues to upset me that he picked the student up and threw her.” Lott said that the student is still facing charges for disrupting the class, which prevented other students from learning and the teacher from performing his job. And when you do have to put your hands on someone, there are other techniques we use.” Lott declined to release Fields’ personnel file, but said none of the complaints filed against him came from the school district. Black students represent 16 percent of enrollment but account for 31 percent of school-related arrests, according to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

After the North Charleston shooting, fears about violence surfaced because of the unrest we had seen in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and New York following the deaths of black men in police encounters. “People mention Baltimore. Under South Carolina law, it is a misdemeanor offense to “willfully or unnecessarily … interfere with or to disturb in any way” students and teachers in school, or “to act in an obnoxious manner” in a school. Some, black and white alike, said the issue wasn’t based on race, and, while the officer may have used unnecessary force, the whole incident shows that teachers and administrators need to work harder on finding ways to handle defiant students. Police involvement with schools dates back to the 1950s but gained prominence in the 1980s with community policing efforts to prevent the spread of drugs by educating students. People mention New York,” North Charleston City Attorney Brady Hair told The Associated Press earlier this month. “What’s different here is there were no acts of violence.

Protecting children became paramount after Columbine, where two students shot dead 12 fellow students and a teacher before committing suicide, and more recent events such as the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children, six adults and himself. Disturbing schools is the third-most common charge in cases referred to the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice, just behind assault and battery and shoplifting, according to 2014 department data. “She is responsible for initiating this action,” Lott said. “Some responsibility falls on her. The girl in the videos remains unidentified, but she has obtained a prominent attorney — Todd Rutherford, who also serves as House minority leader in South Carolina’s legislature.

As the police presence in education has grown, schools have called on officers to deal with fights, students disrupting classes and other issues formerly handled by administrators. In an incident in Northern California on Monday also receiving attention online and on television, an officer was on hand to arrest three teen-aged boys after a brawl over a girl led to the school’s principal being flipped to the ground. A Toronto Star reporter tweeted video of a mostly white crowd marching through Charleston chanting “black lives matter.” A few days after the shootings, a crowd estimated at more than 10,000 gathered at Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel Jr. It happened very quickly and his actions was something that if he probably had to do over again he’d do it differently.” The sheriff’s statement Wednesday triggered a fresh wave of outrage from many people who said students should never face such treatment from police in school. “This was a situation in which the school should have never called the police officer into the room. Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said the police are in schools because dangerous situations apart from outside shooters sometimes arise, including gang and drug activity, he said.

But that does not mean teachers should leave everything to the cops, said Pasco, whose group is the country’s largest police organization with more than 335,000 members. Black students accounted for 59 percent of the overall student population but 78 percent of suspensions in the 2011-2012 school year, according to federal civil rights data.

The sheriff, for his part, said race would not factor into his evaluation: “It really doesn’t matter to me whether that child had been purple,” Lott said. But he and other district officials declined to answer questions about when officers should use force with students, saying that is up to the sheriff’s office, the AP reported.

There should never have been any doubt about how important the Port of Charleston is to the manufacturing-rich Upstate, but if there had been it was permanently removed last week. Arresting younger children can put them on a bad path, raising the likelihood they will repeat grades, drop out or get stuck in the juvenile justice system.

An economic impact study is demonstrating not only the port’s solid value to the entire state but also the unique role it plays in the economic life of the Interstate 85 corridor. Duncan has pushed schools to do away with harsh zero-tolerance discipline policies, saying they disproportionately push minority students into the criminal justice system. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A study completed by Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist in the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, showed that the South Carolina Ports Authority generates $53 billion in economic activity throughout the state on an annual basis. This is ‘I want to be defiant and not do what I’m told,’” said Rebekah Woodford, a parent of two Spring Valley graduates and a current Spring Valley student. “That child chose the course of action at hand.” A lawyer representing the student told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday morning that she was injured as a result of the officer’s actions. “She now has a cast on her arm, she has neck and back injuries.

In addition to the jobs the port helps support and the economic output it helps sustain, port operations produce more than $912 million in tax revenue annually for the state, the study found. Port officials and area manufacturers brought a more specific message to our region last week when a portion of the study specific to the Upstate was released at a chassis plant in Duncan that is operated by German auto supplier ZF Group, which is one of the port’s customers. Other big port users include Greenville-based Michelin North America and General Electric Co. “We are inextricably linked to the Upstate,” Jim Newsome, chief executive of the Ports Authority, said at the ceremony last week. Even then the full extent of the damage might not be known, but a month from now, legislators should know enough to start the process of funding a recovery. Leatherman Sr. of Florence announced Friday that he has created a special Senate committee to gather information about the state’s flood relief efforts.

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