A school-based police officer was caught on camera Monday, violently attacking an African American girl who refused to leave her classroom in South Carolina. The incident was recorded on cellphone video by multiple students in the classroom.
In the disturbing video footage, the police officer can be seen speaking with the girl. Then he grabs her, rips her out of her desk, throws her across the classroom floor and pins her to the ground. The video has drawn intense criticism from around the nation.
Local Parent Group and the ACLU Outraged
The Black Parents Association for the school district and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina have spoken out against the violent incident and called the police officers' actions egregious. The ACLU released a statement that said, "There is no justification whatsoever for treating a child like this."
The Richmond Black Parents Association said that it was "heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland School District Two particularly with families and children of color."
Officer Placed on Administrative Leave
According to the Richland County Sheriff's Department, which employed the school officer, the man was put on administrative leave as they complete an internal investigation into the incident. The white sheriff's deputy has declined interview requests.
The deputy, Ben Fields, was previously included as a defendant in a 2013 federal case alleging he unfairly targets black students with accusations that they are members of gangs. The student plaintiff in that case said that he was unfairly expelled because Deputy Fields wrongly accused him of participating in a gang fight and being a member of gang. The student says that he has never been a gang member.
Pending results of a detailed investigation, the school district has mandated that the officer not work in any of its schools.
Depending on the facts of this case, the teenage girl who was attacked by the officer might have a valid police misconduct claim that she could pursue against the officer and the sheriff's office that employs him.
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