Video footage of a South Carolina police officer picking up, throwing, and dragging a student while inside a classroom surfaced online Monday afternoon.
In the footage, which was reportedly taken at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, the officer — identified as Ben Fields — is seen confronting a student, who appears to be a teenage girl. After telling the student she’s coming with him “or I’ll make you,” Fields places his arm around the girl’s neck, pushing the desk to the ground. The officer is then seen dragging the student across the floor.
Fields tells another student during the ordeal, “I’ll put you in jail next.”
Richland County Sheriff’s Department spoke about the video to BuzzFeed, stating that Fields is one of the school’s “resource officers.” The department says the teen became disruptive in class, prompting the teacher to call Fields.
Gawker reports that the student refused to leave the class when the teacher asked her to. A Spring Valley student identified as Aaron Johnson sent the site a statement detailing the moments before what appears to be an unprovoked attack:
The girl was asked by the teacher Mr. Long to leave the classroom and go to the discipline office, she ignored him, then an administrator came in and asked her if he needed to get the resource officer. She ignored him and then the officer came in. He asked if she was gonna go or if he had to make her go. Then he grabbed her and pulled her out of her desk and she fell on the ground with the desk still on her. He then threw her across the room and then got on top of her. Another student tried to stand up for her, which also led to her arrest.
According to the NY Daily News, Fields is known for “roughing up students.” In fact, the officer was sued in 2007 by a couple alleging a “rough arrest.”
Fields is listed on the Richland County sheriff’s department’s website as a senior deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School. On his now-deleted Twitter page, he described himself as football coach for the school’s defensive line, and a strength coach.
The District’s superintendent, Dr. Debbie Hamm, released a statement on the matter, writing “student safety is and always will be the district’s top priority. The district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students.” Fields has since been placed on administrative duty.
The video has elicited a firestorm of tweets addressing police violence, especially in the case of a student. The footage is just one of many videos that have emerged in recent months dotted with similar incidents.
Officials at the school are also reportedly working on an investigation with the sheriff’s department regarding the incident.