Controversies Over Laws and Violence
By: Peter Lay
Ben Fields, a Student Resource Officer in Richland County, South Carolina was recorded slamming a student to the ground and tossing her several feet. When Sheriff Leon Lott saw the video “it made him want to vomit”. On Wednesday, October 28, the student resource officer, was fired on the grounds that he “violated police regulations when he threw the girl”, according to Lott (CNN).
However, there is more than meets the eye to this case. Even though Fields did perform acts of unnecessary violence, one video that surfaced showed the student attacking the officer before she was arrested. It showed her punching the officer when he initially put his hands on her, but her actions still did not warrant Fields overly violent act.
The officer reportedly yanked the student backwards, causing her to fall to the floor along with the chair and attached desk. Immediately following this, the officer lifted her off the ground slightly and she ended up sliding several feet across the floor. However, the officer did not believe that she was seriously hurt. He stated, “She might have had a rug burn or something like that, but she was not injured” (CNN).
Todd Rutherford, the student’s attorney, disagrees. He stated that his client now has to wear a cast on her arm and that she suffered a bruise on her head.
The student was charged for “disturbing a school.” This charge was brought upon her after she refused to put her phone away after being asked to several times by her teacher and administrative personnel. This is not an isolated charge however, as one of her classmates was also charged with the same offense.
This law, named the “disturbing schools” statute, was established in 1962, but came under serious fire after this incident. This law makes it illegal to “interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school” or “to act in an obnoxious manner”. Democratic state representative Joe Neal, in an interview with Reuters, stated: “A child simply looking at a phone is enough to bring in law enforcement”. The penalty is a misdemeanor charge that can have a fine of $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail in South Carolina.