Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter: The #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh - Ben Fields Terminated

This morning Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a press conference in which he released information regarding the termination of former Deputy Ben Fields. There are a few problems with Sheriff Lott's statement:


First: He starts off talking about videos and the welcome presence of cameras, then he pivots into a dialog that "...videos are just a snapshot and don't tell a complete picture." He talked about getting a "full picture" with evidence and statements (OK), policies, and time frames. THEN, he goes on to say that the internal investigation was based solely on policy violations, which says to me he was all about covering his ass.

Second: He emphasized the statements from the teacher and the administrator as if he was building a case against the victimized student and propping up former Deputy Fields. "...this incident started with a very disruptive student in a class. This student was not allowing the teacher to teach and not allowing the students to learn. she was very disruptive, she was very disrespectful and she started this whole instance with her actions. She refused to leave the class as directed by the teacher. She refused to follow his instructions. He called for assistance from the school administrator. The school administrator got there. He was African American. And he attempted to get her to leave the class also, she refused his instruction and continued her disrespect with him. All the while students were still in the class, the are supposed to be there learning. their education was put on hold while this disruptive student had to be dealt with. At that point school resource officer Ben Fields was called, the situation was explained to him. He attempted to get the student to leave. he was then asked to remove the student from class. and at that point I think we have seen various videos. I will note that the teacher and the school administrator in her statements, both fully support the actions of Ben Fields, they said that he acted appropriately, that he didn't use excessive force, he did what was necessary.That came from both of them who were present when this happened. The third video from another student who also supports officer Fields actually shows the student, female student, sticking Ben Fields and her resisting when he tried to get her from her chair. once he put his hands on her, he was allowed to do that. He placed her under arrest and verbally told her she was under arrest. He attempted to use force to make the arrest...."

Third: His official statement did not include any indication that he would charge Ben Fields with Official Oppression, assault or whatever else one can get charged with for excessive use of force.

Fourth: Lott never gave any indication that he would be dropping the "disturbing schools" charge against the victim and Niya Kenny.

Disturbing Schools Law for South Carolina SECTION 12. Section 16-17-420 of the 1976 Code: "Section 16-17-420. 

(A) It shall be unlawful: (1) For any person willfully or unnecessarily (a) to interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college in this State, (b) to loiter about such school or college premises or (c) to act in an obnoxious manner thereon; or (2) For any person to (a) enter upon any such school or college premises or (b) loiter around the premises, except on business, without the permission of the principal or president in charge. 

(B) Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction thereof, shall pay a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than ninety days. (C) The summary courts are vested with jurisdiction to hear and dispose of cases involving a violation of this section. If the person is a child as defined by Section 63-19-20, jurisdiction must remain vested in the Family Court."

Fifth: Lott did not bring up the statements by two students that spoke to them media on behalf of the victim. Remember, Niya Kenny gave a statement of support for the victim "I know this girl don't got nobody and I couldn't believe this was happening...I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like 'no way, no way.' You can't do nothing like that to a little girl. I'm talking about she's like 5'6"...I was screaming 'What the f, what the f is this really happening?' I was praying out loud for the girl," says Kenny. "I just couldn't believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back."

The second statement came from Tony Robinson Jr. who stated that "She really hadn't done anything wrong...She said that she had took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second.....When I saw what was about to happen my immediate first thing to think is let me get this on camera. This is going to be something that not only I'm I going to be like 'wow did this really happened at my class' but just something that everybody else needs to see. This is something that we can't let this just pass by.....He asked her again, 'will you move, will you move.' She said 'no I have not done anything wrong.; Then he said I'm going to treat you fairly. And she said 'I don't even know who you are.. And that is where it started right there.....I've never seen anything so nasty looking, so sick to the point that you know, other students are turning away, don't know what to do, and are just scared for their lives.....That's supposed to be somebody that's going to protect us. Not somebody that we need to be scare off, or afraid....That was wrong. There was no justifiable reason for why he did that to that girl."

Other resources:

Richland County Sheriff's Department Citizens' Advisory Council