Officer fired over violent S.C. classroom arrest

Oct 28, 2015 12:14 PM by CBS News

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Sheriff's Deputy captured on video forcefully removing a student from class has been fired, the local sheriff said Wednesday, less than a week after the incident first came to the public's attention.

Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was already suspended after videos of him flipping and tossing a black female student across a classroom went viral online.

Critics have accused Fields, who is white, of racial bias, something local officials have so far denied, and they say school officials and even at least one fellow student have publicly said they support Fields' actions.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has asked the FBI to assist in the investigation into the incident, and the Department of Justice has opened a civil rights probe into it.

While Lott said, "the student was being disruptive," his department's review of the incident led to the conclusion that Field's "use of force was unacceptable" and he "did not follow proper training, proper procedure" when he "threw her across the classroom."

Because he did not follow proper procedure, Lott said Field's employment was terminated Wednesday morning.

Fields, who also helped coach the Spring Valley football team, has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.

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