The Department of Justice and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation into the violent arrest of a South Carolina high school student on Monday.

The FBI “will collect all available facts and evidence in order to determine whether a federal law was violated,” according to a statement released by the agency today.

Ben Fields, the Richland county sheriff’s deputy who arrested the two teenage girls during their algebra class, has since been placed on administrative leave pending several investigations. Fields’s tactics were so brutal that even his boss, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, told CBS News that the videos of the arrests were “very disturbing.”

“I shake my head and just say... I ask why, and that’s what I want to know. I want to know why something like that happened,” he said.

In the 24 hours since videos of the arrest went viral, several student from the Spring Valley High School class have spoken to local news outlets, including one student who filmed the incident.

“I was scared, terrified,” sophomore Tony Robinson told WOLO-TV. “So that was my first judgment call; is get your phone out so that everything after this is recorded.”

The second student arrested, Niya Kenny, described the incident and her detainment to WLTX.

“I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” the 18-year old said. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”

Contact the author at