People are outraged about a video showing a school police officer slamming a black student to the ground

Police video spring valleyWIS TVA still from the video of the incident at Spring Valley High School

In two videos raising controversy online, a police officer appears to flip a student backwards in her chair before dragging her across the floor and restraining her. 

The footage, obtained by WISTV, was shot in a classroom at the Spring Valley High School in Richland County, South Carolina. The student shown being detained had repeatedly refused to leave the classroom and “was told that she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WISTV.

The school resource officer — an employee of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the school — is already beginning to face consequences. The officer, Deputy Ben Fields, was placed on administrative leave on Monday, the same day the incident took place, according to WLTX News 19. Fields won’t return to the school while an investigation of the incident takes place, said Lieutenant Curtis Wilson.

According to Wilson, Lott “was totally disturbed by what he saw [on the video]” and “wants answers to what happened and why that happened.” 

WLTX reported the student was charged with disturbing the school but was able to go home with her parents.

WLTX also obtained a statement from the superintendent of Richland School District Two, Libby Roof.

“Our District is deeply concerned about an incident that occurred at Spring Valley High School today,” Roof said in the statement. “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.”

Roof added that the district was cooperating with the investigation by the sheriff’s department.

Two separate videos of the incident are embedded below. Viewers should be warned of strong language and depictions of violence in the videos.

The video has drawn sharp criticism. The New York Times published this statement from Victoria Middleton, the executive director for the South Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union: “There is no justification whatsoever for treating a child like this. Regardless of the reason for the officer’s actions, such egregious use of force — against young people who are sitting in their classrooms — is outrageous. School should be a place to learn and grow, not a place to be brutalized.”

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