Sheriff Fires Richland Deputy After Altercation With Student

COLUMBIA, S.C. (The State/TNS) -

Richland County Sheriff’s Department Senior Deputy Ben Fields was fired Wednesday, two days after an altercation between him and a student at Spring Valley High School was caught on video and posted online.

Three videos, shot by students, show Fields throwing the student to the ground and dragging her across the classroom floor. The videos sparked national outrage and a civil rights investigation by the FBI and U.S. Justice Department.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the internal investigation involved whether Senior Deputy Fields followed protocol when asked to remove the student from the classroom at about 11 a.m. Monday. He did not, Lott said.

Criminal charges, if there are any, would come from the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department, Lott said. On Monday, he asked them to investigate. Those agencies announced Tuesday they had opened a civil rights investigation into Fields’ actions.

Lott said the girl was on her cellphone and not participating in class. He said she was asked by a teacher, and then by an administrator, to leave the classroom but didn’t. That’s when the deputy was called and asked to remove her, he said.

Lott said Wednesday that the teacher and the administrator said they didn’t think the deputy used excessive force. Still, he said, Fields did not follow protocol. “I have a problem with that,” he said.