Officer Who Assaulted Female Student Had History Of Violence
Ben Fields, the school resource officer and sheriff’s deputy who was filmed assaulting a female high school student after she refused to get up from her desk at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
The video, which began to circulate on social media yesterday, shows Fields putting the unidentified woman in a choke hold, slamming her to the ground while she was still in her desk, and dragging her across the room before arresting her. The girl’s teacher — who allegedly had asked her to leave class because she wasn’t participating, and then called in a school administrator when she refused — stood by and said nothing during the assault. Another female student did stand up and protest the officer’s treatment of the girl and was promptly arrested as well.
Niya Kenny told WLTZ that she couldn’t believe what she was seeing and could not stay silent. “I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kenny explained. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like ‘no way, no way.’ You can’t do nothing like that to a little girl. I’m talking about she’s like 5’6″. … 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.”
Another student, Aaron Johnson, emailed Gawker his account of the incident, which supports Kenny’s:
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.
And surprise, surprise, it turns out that Fields has a history of using excessive force. In fact, Fields is currently facing a lawsuit from another student named Ashton James Reese, who claims Fields “recklessly targets African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity.” And in 2005, when Fields was a rookie cop, he brutally arrested an army medic named Thomas Martin, who saw the video from yesterday and immediately recognized Fields as the officer who had assaulted him. Martin told The New York Daily News that Fields “snapped” when Martin called him “dude,” emptying an entire can of pepper spray in the uniformed army officer’s face. Martin had been trained to resist the chemicals and therefore “didn’t react like most people would,” leading Fields to become “more violent” towards Martin, as well as Martin’s wife, who was also filming that incident. The civil rights violation lawsuit that Martin filed against Fields was dismissed because of the difficulty in proving “excessive force.”
“I felt like if he had felt the consequences from 2005, this wouldn’t happen today,” Martin’s wife, Tashiana Rogers, said.
So, here’s my question: How does a police officer with a history of excessive force end up working around high school students? How does an officer with a history like Fields then manage to keep his job even after being accused of using excessive force on a high school student? Who decided this fucking guy was the right person to be dealing with high school students?