The white South Carolina police officer who sparked national outrage once a video surfaced of him body-slamming a young girl to the floor for refusing to leave her classroom seat is now unemployed.
Ben Fields, the now former officer of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, who was serving as a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., was fired just two days after a video that went viral showed him abruptly yanking an African-American girl out of her chair and tossing her several feet to the ground, before he pounced on her and handcuffed the teen.
In addition to Fields being fired, the FBI and the Justice Department are now investigating the incident to see if the girl’s civil rights were violated.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called Fields’ actions unacceptable, and was particularly upset at seeing the girl being thrown across the floor.
“From the very beginning that’s what caused me to be upset when I saw that video and what continues to upset me every time I view that video is that he picked the student up and threw the student across the room,” said Lott. “That is a violation of our policy and (therefore) School Resource Officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richfield County Sheriff’s Department.”
NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said the incident is indicative of over-policing in our nation’s schools, in particular when it comes to students of color.
“This is also a clear indication that the shifts in resources and spending by school districts have created an over-reliance on armed police instead of educated and trained school administrators,” said Brooks. “It is unfortunate that our school principals and vice principals, the traditional administrators of discipline, have been put in a position to rely on street policing inside our school classrooms rather than administering tried and true education discipline tactics. There is no acceptable explanation for this officer’s treatment of this young student.”
South Carolina has been a hotbed for unrest between whites and African-Americans. On April 4, Charleston, S.C. officer, Michael Slager, who is white, shot in the back and killed Walter Scott, an African-American, as he was running away from the officer. Slager was charged with murder. Then on June 17 nine African-Americans were gunned down in a Charleston church when 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire after being invited into the church. Roof is also white.