Deputy fired after dragging student
Seneca, SC - The Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff's Office has terminated the deputy seen in a viral video dragging a student from her desk. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday that Senior Deputy Ben Fields has been fired. He had been a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School.
In a news conference Wednesday, the sheriff said the deputy violated training or acceptable procedure. He said the sheriff's office takes responsibility for his deputy's actions, but reminded those at the press conference that the situation was created by a student who was disrupting class.
"He was not trained to throw the student," Sheriff Lott said. Lott said Deputy Fields told him he regrets bringing negative attention to the sheriff's office, and that if he could do it again he would likely handle the situation differently.
Lott has said the girl was uninjured aside from a rug burn. However, the girl's attorney, Todd Rutherford, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she "has a cast on her arm, she has neck and back injuries." He says she also has a bandage on her forehead because of the rug burn.
Federal authorities are continuing their independent investigation.
Mobile app users, watch Sheriff Lott's press conference here.
Officials said the confrontation at Spring Valley High School in Columbia occurred Monday after the student refused the officer's order to leave the classroom for being disruptive. Officers say the student had refused Fields' order to leave a classroom for being disruptive.
The Justice Department says it has opened a federal civil rights investigation. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the investigation will look into "the circumstances surrounding the arrest" and determine if a federal law was broken.
Sheriff Leon Lott has asked federal authorities to investigate.
The federal probe will include the FBI, the Justice Department's civil rights division and the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina.
The student has been charged with disturbing schools. Her mother, Doris Kenny, told WLTX TV she was shocked and upset when she saw the video. She says she is not mad at her daughter because she was "brave enough to speak out against what was going on."
Tony Robinson Jr., the student who recorded the video, told the Columbia television station a school administrator was called to the room about 10:30 a.m. Monday and pleaded with the girl to get out of her seat. She refused.
The witness said the officer came into the classroom, shut the girl's computer and moved it to another desk. Robinson says he thought something was amiss and pulled out his phone and started recording.
The officer asked the female student to move and she says she hasn't done anything wrong. When she doesn't move, the officer grabs her and tosses her from the chair.
Robinson says it was a scary experience and there was no "justifiable reason" for the officer's actions.
In 2013, a student expelled from Spring Valley High School, accused the same deputy, who is white, of targeting black students after saying the expelled student was a gang member. That case is set to go to trial in January.
In 2010, federal court records show a jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused Fields of excessive force and battery during a 2005 noise complaint arrest in Columbia.
In a third lawsuit, a woman who reported suspicion of child abuse accused Fields and another deputy of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest. That case was dismissed in 2009.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.