The video of a girl at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, first spread in a twit by Shaun King, being violently taken down by Richland County sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields, went viral. Talk about a school resource, officer.
After all, she was disruptive. Carlos Miller at Photography is Not a Crime provides thorough coverage of what happened and why, together with Fields’ lengthy history of “issues” with violence toward students.
According to Tony Robinson Jr., the teen who recorded one of the videos, the girl who was beaten and dragged was caught by the teacher using her phone in class and was ordered out.
The girl did not want to leave, pleading with the teacher to stay, promising she would not pull out her cell phone, which was when an administrator was called, then the deputy, who entered the room and immediately began clearing desks as if preparing to drag her out, according to WLTX 19, who interviewed Robinson.
A second student who recorded the incident, Niya Kenny, was arrested for “disturbing schools.”
Clearly good cause for Fields’ beat down. For the full story, read Carlos’ post. For those who prefer to cut to the chase, Fields has been suspended without pay pending an “investigation,” which might be snarkily interpreted in light of his history and getting caught on viral video.
For those who feel that the problem wasn’t Fields, but the girl who could have avoided the mess by simply doing what she was told, that’s not how police use of force does, or should, work. Immediate resort to force because somebody didn’t do what a cop told them to do, particularly when that person is a juvenile, is wholly improper. If you don’t get why, then you have no business reading this.
There remains a point deriving from this video, before there was background information that made clear there was, in fact, no reason whatsoever for Fields to resort to violence, that needs making. When the video went viral, some immediately tried to come up with rationalizations for why Fields might have a legitimate reason to use excessive force. After all, she might have threatened to bomb the school or kill puppies. What about the puppies?
There is no scenario, no excuse, not even space aliens, that would legitimize Fields’ use of force. The girl was unarmed. Even assuming that she threatened to get her AK and shoot up her classmates, she posed no imminent threat of violence.
She used no force against Fields, posed no risk of danger to him even under the most liberal application of the First Rule of Policing. She was, at worst, passive. She failed to comply with his demand that she leave the classroom.
Contempt of cop? That’s the worst of it, that he ordered her to do something and she didn’t. While this would give rise to his anger, possibly ‘roid rage as Carlos speculates, a cop getting angry at a student’s failure to respect his authoritah is not a lawful justification for the use of force, no matter how much you adore the police.
But what was he supposed to do when she refused to comply with his lawful order? Not grab her around the neck, throw her violently to the ground, get dragged a few feet before the cop got atop her to cuff her. The question isn’t what makes a cop’s job easier, but what justification exists for the use of force against a person, a student, when there is no force or threat of harm to anyone.
Or as Shaun King put it:
The Sheriff’s Office just confirmed for me that this student was not physical, but that she was “verbally disruptive” and that the officer was “forced” to do this since she “resisted arrest”. Nah.