The Justice Department is set to open a federal civil rights investigation following the emergence of a now-viral video showing a school resource officer slamming.
The Justice Department is set to open a federal civil rights investigation following the emergence of a now-viral video showing a school resource officer slamming and dragging a Black female student across the classroom.
The unidentified teenager, who is a student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, took a look at her cell phone during class. According to another student, who has since spoken out about the incident, the teen was reprimanded, but refused to hand over her phone and leave the classroom. Resource officer Ben Fields was called to remove the student.
Before placing her in what appears to be a headlock, Fields — a high school football and strength coach who has been in hot water before for “rough arrests” — tells the student that he will “make” her move. He then puts his arm around her neck, slams her to the ground along with the desk, and drags her across the room. Classmates say the officer also placed his knee in the student’s back during the arrest.
Another student was arrested for protesting the treatment of the student.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called for federal investigators to review the incident. On Tuesday afternoon, he announced that Fields would be suspended without pay.
From the New York Times:
On the department’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Sheriff Lott said the federal investigation had begun. Local law enforcement officials believe “that the criminal investigation will be best served with the F.B.I. as the lead agency,” Sheriff Lott said, adding that the state police had also been asked to investigate.
The investigation will also include the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina.