Officials at a northeast Columbia school district say a school resource officer will be reassigned as they investigate a confrontation between him and a high school student that turned physical on Monday.
Video posted to Instagram on Monday purports to show a school resource officer (SRO) at Spring Valley High School dragging a 17-year-old student out of her chair and across the floor as she refuses to leave a classroom. The video went viral after it was retweeted by Shaun King, an activist and blogger with the “Black Lives Matter” movement. A second longer video was later posted that appears to show the incident from a different angle.
Richland School District 2 officials have confirmed the event occurred at Spring Valley High School on Monday. They did not identify the SRO, but Superintendent Debbie Hamm said the officer has been directed not to return until their investigation is complete. He was not identified in the school release, but sheriff’s department spokesman identified him as Deputy Ben Fields.
South Carolina Radio Network will not be releasing the student’s name at this time, as she is a minor.
“Student safety is and always will be the District’s top priority,” Hamm said in a statement. “The District will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students.”
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Curtis Wilson said Sheriff Leon Lott was out of town on Monday, but added the department would be investigating what happened. Wilson said Fields was trying to arrest the student for “disturbing the school” after she had refused a teacher’s order to leave. A school administrator had been called to the classroom prior to the SRO’s arrival.
The longer video begins as the officer is already speaking to the unidentified student. The video does not show why the officer had been called to the room. The officer tells the student to stand up and put her hands behind her back, then asks “Are you going to come with me or not?” After the student refuses, he says “I treated you fairly last year, right?”
“I don’t know you,” the student answers.
“You don’t know me?” the SRO responds. “Now are you going to come with me or am I going to make you?” He then moves behind her chair and says, “Come on. I’m going to get you up.”
That’s when the other shorter video begins. In both videos, the officer can be seen grabbing the student from behind by her shoulders and side. The student can be seen struggling as the officer’s arm reaches across her neck. The officer continues pulling the student up, causing her desk to flip over as she resists. The officer does not stop, but continues pulling on the student, dragging both her and the desk across the classroom floor before finally prying her out and flinging her towards the door.
The officer tells the student “get your hands behind your back,” then repeatedly orders “Give me your hands.” It’s not clear if the student complies, but the individual filming the incident (presumably another student) stands up and walks forward for a better view. Another student asks “Is nobody getting this (expletive) on Snapchat?”
The officer and an administrator both turn in response and the photographer moves to hide their phone. However, audio continues recording and the officer can be heard ordering “Give me your hands,” twice more as the student says “I’m hurt.”
“Don’t break it, bruh,” another voice says, although the context is not entirely clear. Eventually the photographer says “That (expletive) is hard, now.”
The same voice heard asking about Snapchat then yells “What the (expletive)?”
“Hey!” The officer snaps. “I’ll put you in jail next.” The student does not respond and the video ends a few seconds later.
Wilson said a male student was also arrested for disturbing school. The male student was taken into custody, while the female was released to her parents.