Warning students, quit texting in class because you might get a beatdown by police. A Columbia, South Carolina cop Ben Fields beat up a girl and threw her across the room for texting in class, reported the Associated Press on Oct. 28. Several students at Spring Valley High School caught the cop-on-teen throwdown on cellphone video. It shows officer Ben Fields flipping the teen out of her desk, drags her along the floor, then tosses her across the classroom. An attorney for the student, Todd Rutherford said his client now has a cast on her arm and neck and back injuries. She suffered a rug burn when on her head where she bounced off the floor. Rutherford said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott should have fired his Senior Deputy Ben Fields immediately after viewing the video recording.
The fact that Ben Fields is white and the girl is black has some people disturbed. Others are more bothered seeing a big burly male cop–in uniform–knock around a much smaller girl in a school classroom. They question why the cops were called on the girl in the first place. She texted in class, but so do most students if they are honest. Further, many schools communicate with kids via text, email, etc. Some teachers actually expect kids to use cellphones for classwork and text kids homework assignments. But evidently this teacher didn’t want this girl to have a cellphone in class. When the educator tried to take the girl’s phone she got “unruly.” No details are given on whether she got physical, sassy or just refused to surrender her phone.
The biggest concern is whether officer Ben Fields went overboard in performing his duty. Lott maintained that the girl was uninjured but says she had a rug burn on her head. Lott admitted that seeing one of his cops beating up a girl made him want to “throw up.” Videos show Ben Fields telling the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed. When she doesn’t get up, the cop wraps a big arm around her neck, flips her and her desk over backward to the floor. He throws the girl to the front of the class, then handcuffs her. Lott says the girl struck out in self-defense, but the video doesn’t show that. The teacher and the vice-principal thought Fields acted appropriately, but Lott did suspend Fields without pay. Lott says it’s not about what the girl did, but how an adult male police officer treated a kid.
He may decide as early as Wednesday whether to fire Ben Fields. He said Richland County plans to handle it immediately and not let it drag out. Sheriff Lott says the public demands, and should get, a quick resolution.