South Carolina Deputy Ben Fields Fired Following Assault On Student

Ben Fields, a deputy from South Carolina, was fired on Wednesday after county officials had concluded he had dealt with a rebellious student improperly.

Caught on video, the footage shows Fields confronting a student who had been asked to leave the classroom on grounds of class disruption. “You’re either going to come with me, or I’m going to make you,” he says. When the student remains seated, Fields states, “Come on, I’m going to get you up.”

Following the student’s incessant refusal to cooperate, Fields picks up the student from her desk and throws her to the floor. He then throws the student across the room as he continues to restrain her, repeatedly telling her to put her hands behind her back.

Fields, who joined the sheriff’s office in 2004 and joined the school resource officer program in 2008, has consequently been placed on administrative leave by the Sheriff’s Department.

“He picked a student up, and he threw the student across the room. That is not a proper technique,” said Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County at a news conference. “Deputy Ben Fields did wrong this past Monday, so we’re taking responsibility for that.”

Florence McCants, an instructor at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, told BuzzFeed News that Fields was not taught to use defensive tactics — physical restraint included — in his training to be a school resource officer.

The deputy’s dismissal follows an internal review that indicates Field had used a maneuver that violated the agency’s training and procedural standards.

While many have criticized Fields for his actions, several have also come to his defense, including one of the students who uploaded footage of his alleged assault.

“Over and over he did nothing wrong,” said Reginald Seabrooks, one of the students who managed to document the incident. “They asked her to get up but she wanted to show off. To some it looks bad but she wanted to prove that she was bad.”

Fields’ attorney, Scott Hayes, defended his client, claiming that his actions were “justified and lawful.”

“We believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident,” said Hayes in a statement. “To that extent, we believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were carried out professionally and at that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold.”

Niya Kenny, a classmate who was also arrested on the same grounds, claimed her classmate had attempted to attack Fields before the arrest.

“He grabbed her arm, and he put his arm around her neck at first,” said Kenny. “So that’s why you actually see her — if you get the right video — then you’ll see her trying to swing at him.”

Lott expects that the student, who was arrested on a charge of disturbing the school, would still face prosecution.

“We must not lose sight that the whole incident was started by this student,” he said, however he still acknowledges that this does not excuse Fields’ actions.

“He regrets it,” Lott said of his deputy. “He’s been at that school for 7 years. He loves those students. He wishes it never happened this way. This wasn’t his intent.”

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