An internal investigation into the arrest of a high school student by one of his officers will be finished within 24 hours, Sheriff Leon Lott said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Even though she was wrong for disturbing the class,” Lott said, “I’m looking at what our deputy did.”
Earlier in the day, the Department of Justice and the FBI announced that they were opening an investigation of their own into the incident at Spring Valley high school. “I have spoken with the FBI and U.S. Attorney William Nettles today as I travel back from Chicago. Their investigation has begun,” Lott said in a statement on the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.
“The criminal investigation will be best served with the FBI as the lead agency. We do not want any issues with the community or those involved having questions concerning conflicts of interest in this investigation.”
Lott elaborated at the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, referring to a third, unreleased video of the arrest that apparently shows the targeted student hitting Ben Fields, the School Resources Officer who has been placed on administrative leave, with her fists.
“If she had not disrupted that school, disrupted that class, we would not be standing here today.”
The girl’s actions are not relevant to the department’s investigation, however. “What did he do? That’s what I’m looking at.” Lott said, adding that his “responsibility is the appropriateness of the deputies actions”