A South Carolina sheriff's deputy seen hurling a student to the ground and then dragging her across the floor in a widely viewed video has been fired, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday.
Deputy Ben Fields had been on administrative leave since the Monday incident.
"Deputy Ben Fields did wrong Monday," Lott said, adding that Fields had been terminated from the department roughly 20 minutes before the noon press announcement.
That is of course gratifying to hear, however Sheriff Lott also added this:
But even as he announced Fields' firing, Lott appeared to defend the deputy's actions and shift at least some of the blame for the encounter to the student, whom he described as "very disruptive and very disrespectful."
"We must not lose sight that the whole incident was started by this student," he said.
And see that's where this whole thing goes off the rails.
You see the ONLY way to justify the use of force in this situation would be if the student was endangering herself or others. And that was not the case here.
In yesterday's post a number of commenters pointed out that it appeared the girl struck out at the officer, but after rewatching it several times it seemed obvious to me that she was actually flailing in response to being grabbed and was not consciously aiming punches at the officer.
But here's the thing. Even if she HAD been hitting at him, it is HIS responsibility to remain calm and control the situation without causing harm to the student.
Not only is he the adult in the situation, he is a law enforcement professional specifically trained, according to Sheriff Lott, to work in that environment.
If people cannot recognize that literally EVERYTHING this officer did from the moment that he placed his hands on that child is wrong, then either you are an idiot, a racist, a misogynist, or all three.
As I have shared in the past I work with some VERY, VERY challenging young people in my job.
I have been kicked, bitten, spit at, cursed at, and threatened with grave injury or death more times than I can count.
If you do not think that just for an instant after getting headbutted right in the nose I did not want to pick one up of these little terrorists and slam them against the wall to demonstrate my dominance, than you do not understand that even good people have bad thoughts sometimes.
But I never did that. Not even once.
And the reason I did not do it, is first because it would be wrong, and second because it would cost me my job, and very likely open myself and the business I work for to a lawsuit.
A lawsuit by the way that they would more than likely win.
It takes a very particular kind of person to work with difficult kids, and trust me that is who this officer was there to serve. And it takes specialized training to know how to serve them appropriately.
It was clear from the video, that this officer had the wrong temperament, and that he also did not have adequate training.
By the way the only thing I gleaned from all of those incredibly insensitive comments yesterday calling this child a "bitch," and blaming her, her parents, or society for this incident, instead of the officer, is that you are essentially announcing to the world your ignorance.
And it might be enlightening to all of those who claimed this child was unhurt to learn that such was not the case:
“She now has a cast on her arm, she has neck and back injuries. She has a Band-Aid on her forehead where she suffered rug burn on her forehead,” Columbia attorney Todd Rutherford told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
For those of you are suspicious of this and think that, much like the person who claims whiplash after getting their bumper tapped, it is an exaggeration for an upcoming lawsuit, you might be right.
However that only once again illustrates why you only put well trained, even tempered police officers in a school setting, if you put any officers there at all.