A video circulating on social media today shows a South Carolina school officer choking a student, slamming her to the ground and then dragging her across a classroom floor while attempting to place her under arrest.
Update (6:45 p.m.) A Spring Valley student named Aaron Johnson who says he was in the class sent me this account via Twitter direct message:
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.
We cannot confirm that a second student was apprehended in the aftermath of the taped incident. [Update: Via Buzzfeed, the sheriff’s department confirms that a second student was arrested.] I asked Johnson about Fields’ reputation at the school and he said, “A few of my friends say he has a history of using aggressive force.” As for the student in the video, Johnson said, “All I know is she was really quiet and she transferred to our class.”
The video was shot at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, according to a local news report which confirmed its authenticity with the school. Per a statement from another officer, the one in the video was attempting to remove a student who refused to leave class.
School officials confirm the incident happened on Monday, but stopped short of releasing further details.
According to Sheriff Leon Lott, the school resource officer was acting in response to a student who was refusing to leave class.
“The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”
WISTV has also posted a second video of the altarcation:
According to ex-Spring Valley students discussing the incident on social media, the officer’s name is Ben Fields. A news story from December 2014 identifies Fields as the school resource officer for both Spring Valley High School and Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary.
Ex-students on Twitter have also been discussing an incident in which Fields allegedly had a physical altercation with a pregnant student at the school, a story repeated in the comments of a 2012 blog post alleging an excessive force complaint against Fields, accompanied by a since-deleted video.
Just for good measure, here is a video of someone identified as Fields bench-pressing 600 pounds.
We’ve reached out to the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and will update if they respond. If you have any information about this incident or Deputy Fields, email me at email@example.com
[h/t Shaun King]