COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Richland County school resource officer has been placed on administrative duty following an incident at Spring Valley High School that was captured on video and circulated on social media sites. The video purports to show the officer forcibly removing a young woman from her desk and the room.
Lt. Curtis Wilson with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said Monday night that Deputy Ben Fields will not be back at any school pending the results of an investigation.
In the video, a female student can be seen sitting in her chair in a classroom where several other students are present. An officer can be seen grabbing the student out of her desk, causing the chair to flip over. Once the student is on the ground, the officer can be seen grabbing the student and dragging her for several feet.
The full video of the Spring Valley High School Police Officer brutally assaulting a peaceful student. pic.twitter.com/oHIS8GrtSS
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) October 26, 2015
The officer then tells the girl to put her hands behind her back. A second, shorter video shows the officer restraining the girl.
Sheriff Leon Lott, whose agency is in charge of the school resource program at Spring Valley, told WLTX-TV that the student refused to leave after a teacher asked her to. An administrator was called to the room and also asked the student to leave, Lott said, and she refused again. Finally, the school resource officer came to the room. Lott said the officer forcibly removed the student, and she resisted.
The girl was charged with disturbing schools, and was released to the custody of her parents. Another female student was also charged with disturbing schools, but Wilson said that was not the person who recorded the video. (Wilson had earlier said the second student was male, but later clarified.)
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Wilson said the sheriff, who is out of town at a law enforcement conference, is asking for patience while an investigation takes place, and that Lott was taken aback by what’s being shown to the public.
“He was disturbed by what he saw,” Wilson said. “He has questions. He has questions just like everybody else does. And he wants answers to those questions.”
Wilson could not say if the deputy involved had any prior complaints against him.
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Richland School District Two Superintendent Dr. Libby Roof said that the district was “deeply concerned” about the incident, and will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of students.
Roof also said that pending the results of an investigation with the sheriff’s department, the district has directed that the officer not return to any school in the district.
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