FBI Now Investigating Violent Classroom Arrest

Sheriff says video made him sick
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2015 3:51 AM CDT

The rough arrest of a girl in a Columbia, SC, classroom has become international news—and a federal case. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has contacted the FBI and the Justice Department about the case, and a US attorney tells the State that there will be a "thorough and thoughtful investigation" of whether the girl's civil rights were violated by Deputy Ben Fields. Lott says that while he "wanted to throw up" after first seeing video of the Spring Valley High School arrest, it's only a "snapshot" of what happened in the classroom, where the officer had been called in after the girl, who had been using her phone, refused to leave, NBC News reports. The sheriff adds that he doesn't think race was a factor because Fields, who is white, has been dating a black woman for "quite some time."

Fields has been suspended without pay during an internal investigation, and Lott tells CNN that "there's no justification for some of his actions," although he says one video of the incident shows the girl attacking the officer before he takes her to the ground. He says the girl wasn't injured, though she "may have a rug burn or something like that." She was arrested on a charge of "disturbing schools," as was classmate Niya Kenny, who filmed the incident and allegedly cursed at the officer. Kenny tells NBC that Fields, who's also the defensive coach of Spring Valley's football team, is nicknamed "Officer Slam" for his readiness to use force. She says that as soon as he walked into the classroom, she "felt something bad was going to go down" and started filming. (More South Carolina stories.)

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