Video footage of a South Carolina police officer picking up, throwing, and dragging a student while inside a classroom surfaced online Monday afternoon.
In the footage, which was reportedly taken at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, the officer — identified as Ben Fields — is seen confronting a student, who appears to be a teenage girl. After telling the student she’s coming with him “or I’ll make you,” Fields places his arm around the girl’s neck, pushing the desk to the ground. The officer is then seen dragging the student across the floor.
Fields tells another student during the ordeal, “I’ll put you in jail next.”
Richland County Sheriff’s Department spoke about the video to BuzzFeed, stating that Fields is one of the school’s “resource officers.” The department says the teen became disruptive in class, prompting the teacher to call Fields.
Gawker reports that the student refused to leave the class when the teacher asked her to. A Spring Valley student identified as Aaron Johnson sent the site a statement detailing the moments before what appears to be an unprovoked attack:
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.
According to the NY Daily News, Fields is known for “roughing up students.” In fact, the officer was sued in 2007 by a couple alleging a “rough arrest.”
Fields is listed on the Richland County sheriff’s department’s website as a senior deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School. On his now-deleted Twitter page, he described himself as football coach for the school’s defensive line, and a strength coach.
The District’s superintendent, Dr. Debbie Hamm, released a statement on the matter, writing “student safety is and always will be the district’s top priority. The district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students.” Fields has since been placed on administrative duty.
The video has elicited a firestorm of tweets addressing police violence, especially in the case of a student. The footage is just one of many videos that have emerged in recent months dotted with similar incidents.
Officials at the school are also reportedly working on an investigation with the sheriff’s department regarding the incident.
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1. Jordan Baker, 26, Killed January 2014 In Texas
An officer approached the Houston man thinking he matched the description of a suspect (Baker was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt). The officer claims a scuffle and a foot chase ensued when he asked for Baker's identification. The officer also claims Baker charged at him, prompting him to fire his weapon. An investigation continues. The officer involved was placed on administrative leave.
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2. McKenzie Cochran, 25, Killed January 2014 In Detroit
Cochran, who had been asked to leave a shopping mall for suspicious behavior, returned the next day and allegedly told a shop worker that he wanted to kill someone. Police restrained and pepper-sprayed the unarmed man, even as he told them he couldn't breathe. The officer involved will not face charges.
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3. Keith Vidal, 18, Killed January 2014 In North Carolina
Vidal's parents called 911 to calm him down during a schizophrenic episode, but after attempting to stun the teenager a cop allegedly said, “we don’t have time for this” before shooting and killing him.
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4. Yvette Smith, 47, Killed February 2014 In Texas
Smith was shot in the abdomen and hip by police responding to a domestic dispute at a home. Police originally claimed Smith had a firearm, but later retracted the statement. The officer involved was indicted on a murder charge.
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5. Victor White III, 22, Killed March 2014 In Louisiana
Police allege White shot himself while in police custody in the back of a cruiser. White's hands were handcuffed in the back — an autopsy determined the fatal wound was to the chest. As of September, federal authorities were investigating White's death.
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6. Dontre Hamilton, 31, Killed April 2014 In Milwaukee
Officer Christopher Manning shot Hamilton 14 times, some hitting him in the back, after questioning the man for sleeping at a nearby park. Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Manning in the shooting.
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7. Jason Harrison, 28, Killed June 2014 In Texas
Harrison's mother dialed 911 seeking a team to help with her argumentative son, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But when police arrived, they shot the man five times. Police claim Harrison was holding a screwdriver and refused to put it down when asked. Because officers had previously been called to calm Harrison down in the past, his family filed a lawsuit stating that excessive force was used.
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8. Eric Garner, 43, Killed July 2014 In NYC
Garner, who was suspected of selling loose cigarettes, was placed in an illegal chokehold and killed in July. The officer involved was not indicted, although the entire incident was caught on tape.
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9. Ezell Ford, Killed August 2014 In California
Police in Los Angeles shot and killed the mentally ill man after a brief struggle during an "investigative stop." Family members say the man was lying down and complying with police orders when shot. An investigation is on hold.
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10. Dante Parker, 36, Killed August 2014 In California
Parker was stunned with a Taser after resisting arrest. He was unarmed.
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11. Kajieme Powell, 25, Killed August 2014 In St. Louis
Just days after Michael Brown's shooting, police shot and killed Powell after suspecting he stole energy drinks at a local convenience store. Cops say Powell was armed with a small knife when he lunged at them, but a video shows that the 25-year-old wasn't as close to police as originally reported and he was shot within 15 seconds of cops arriving on the scene.
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12. Omar Abrego, 37, Killed August 2014 In California
Abrego was beaten to death by LAPD after a car chase. The officers involved were not charged.
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13. Maria Godinez, 22, Killed August 2014 In Orlando
Godinez was struck by a stray bullet in a bar after cops tried subduing, then shooting at Kody Roach, a suspect who reportedly waved his gun outside a bar.
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14. Michael Brown Jr., 18, Killed August 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot an unarmed Brown in the middle of the street, claiming the teen tried to take his gun during a brief struggle. Witnesses say Wilson shot Brown while the teen's hands were in the air. A grand jury elected not to indict Wilson in November.
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15. Darrien Hunt, 22, Killed September 2014 In Utah
Hunt, who was carrying a decorative sword while cosplaying, was shot by police after they tried to take it away. The officers involved were not charged with a crime.
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16. Jack Jacquez, 27, Killed November 2014 In Colorado
Police shot and killed Jacquez after entering his house unexpectedly. According to Jacquez's fiancée and mother, the 27-year-old had just returned to the house from helping a friend babysit when police arrived at the home. He was only carrying a skateboard, family members said. Officer James Ashby was charged with second-degree murder a month later.
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17. Tamir Rice, 12, Killed November 2014 In Ohio
Police responding to a call that a child had a "probably" fake gun at an Ohio playground shot and killed the 12-year-old within 1.7 seconds. Tamir was in fact holding a toy gun. They let the wounded child lay for four minutes before administering first aid. The officers involved were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
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18. Akai Gurley, 28, Killed November 2014 In NYC
Gurley, who was unarmed, was shot dead by a rookie NYPD officer in a dark stairwell of a housing project. The police department called his death an accident. An investigation is ongoing.
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19. Tanesha Anderson, 37, Killed November 2014 In Cleveland
Anderson, who suffered from schizophrenia, died after police slammed her on the pavement outside of her home. A caller told 911 the 37-year-old woman was "disturbing the peace." An investigation is ongoing.
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20. Rumain Brisbon, 34, Killed December 2014 In Arizona
Brisbon was killed by an officer who mistook his bottle of pills for a gun. The 34-year-old was unarmed and reportedly taking food to his family. An investigation is ongoing.