CRIME
10/26/2015 06:39 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2015

Spring Valley High School Student Flung By School Officer On Video

The student had refused to leave class before the officer became involved.

 

A South Carolina school officer grabbed a high school student from her chair, knocked her to the floor and dragged her across the classroom on Monday, a video shows.

The brief, shaky video shows an officer grab the student by her arms while she's sitting at her desk and flip her over, toppling the desk. The officer then yanks the girl to the front of the classroom. 

The officer has been identified as Deputy Ben Fields. He has been placed on administrative duty, Richland County Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson said, according to News19.

The video becomes blurry after the officer and the student reach the front of the classroom, but the officer appears to restrain the student by putting her arms behind her back. In a longer version of the video, the officer looms over the student before grabbing her. 

Debbie Hamm, superintendent for Richland School District Two, said in a statement officials were "deeply concerned" about the incident.

"Student safety is and always will be the district’s top priority," Hamm said. "The district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students. Pending the outcome of the investigation, the district has directed that the school resource officer not return to any school in the district."

The student had refused to leave class before the school officer became involved, the sheriff's office told the local TV station WIST.

James Manning, chairman of the school board, called the video "extremely disturbing" in an email statement Monday evening. He said the use of force appears "excessive and unnecessary." Fields, said Manning, has been banned from all school property.

"Staff are committed to the safety of all of our students and are taking immediate steps to ensure that our students are treated with the full respect and dignity that they deserve while in our care," Manning said.

The video, which spawned the trending hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh, has already drawn sharp condemnation around the country. 

The ACLU called the event "outrageous." Victoria Middleton, the executive director of the civil rights organization's South Carolina branch, slammed the criminalization of students. "School should be a place to learn and grow, not a place to be brutalized," Middleton told The State.

Incidents of violence involving students and school or local law enforcement are not uncommon. Last November, a video emerged of a school resource officer punching a student in the face, supposedly to break up a fight. An incident earlier this month shows a cop grabbing a teen by the neck and slamming him to the ground. And another shows a man using what Fusion calls a "WWE wrestling move" on a 14-year-old student.

Spring Valley High School officials didn't immediately respond to inquiries. A spokesman for the Richland County sheriff's office was unavailable, according to someone who answered the department's phone, because the office had been "inundated" with calls. 

This article has been updated to include comments from the school board chairman.

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