Video shows struggle between deputy and student
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Richland County deputies are investigating after a video reportedly recorded Monday at Spring Valley High School shows an incident between a school resource officer and a student.
Lt. Curtis Wilson says Sheriff Leon Lott is aware and was 'disturbed' by the video.
Wilson added at a news conference Monday evening that the student was initially asked to leave the classroom, but refused.
After still refusing to leave the classroom, the school resource officer, who has been identified as Ben Fields, came into the classroom to remove the student.
The video shows Fields grabbing a female student's arm and putting his arm around the student's neck. The student falls to the floor in the struggle and is dragged out of the camera's view, at which point, you can hear the officer attempting to put the person in handcuffs.
The female student in the video and a second female student were arrested at the school Monday on disturbing the school charges. No injuries were reported during this incident.
Fields was initially placed on administrative duties, however Sheriff Leon Lott announced just after 11pm Monday that Fields is now on unpaid administrative leave.
A statement from the Richland Two School District says,"Our District is deeply concerned about an incident that occurred at Spring Valley High School today. The incident took place between a school resource officer employed by the Richland County Sheriff's Department and a student. Video of the incident is circulating on social media.
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.
Upon learning of the incident, school and district administrators began an investigation. We are working closely and in full cooperation with the Richland County Sheriff's Department to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.
Pending the outcome of the investigation, the District has directed that the school resource officer not return to any school in the District."
"We cannot and will not accept this kind of behavior from any law enforcement officer and I firmly believe that we need an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this incident and see that justice is done," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.
The mayor added that he has talked with Sheriff Lott and that the sheriff will deal with this situation promptly.