‘Officer Slam’ Will Not Be Charged For Brutalizing Teenage Girl
Above: Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott speaks during a news conference regarding Deputy Ben Fields in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. CREDIT:AP PHOTO/ALEX SANZ
A video of Security Resource Officer Ben Fields yanking a teenage girl from her desk and throwing her across the room shocked the internet and inspired investigations into South Carolina’s use of police in schools. But on Friday, after 11 months of investigating, prosecutors announced they would not be pursuing criminal charges against the officer.
Fields was fired in October for his conduct, which the sheriff said at the time made him “want to throw up.” About 100 students at Spring Valley High protested his firing. Other students had reportedly nicknamed him “Officer Slam,” because he had a reputation for violence.
The investigation found that the girl had a fractured wrist and minor bruising after the incident. Still, the report quotes a witness who said, “The incident looked worse in the video than it did in the classroom.”
The girl reportedly had refused to put her phone away and leave the room, so the teacher called Fields in. According to BuzzFeed News, Fields told investigators the violence in the video was “because of the momentum that the student’s movements had created.” He claims the student punched him in the face and fell backward, and her foot got caught on the chair as he tried to pull her up.
“As I continued to use the muscling technique the students leg broke free from the lock the student had on the desk and the student slid across the floor,” he wrote.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson said he found no evidence suggesting criminal charges were appropriate. He also criticized the timing of Fields’ firing, suggesting it was “injurious to the prosecution of the case(s),” though BuzzFeed News notes the report offers no specific ways his termination impeded investigators.
The girl in the video, meanwhile, was also arrested on suspicion of disturbing schools, a criminal misdemeanor in South Carolina, but the solicitor decided not to pursue charges against her either.