Sheriff Leon Lott said that an internal investigation found that the force Deputy Ben Fields used to arrest a student who was disrupting a class at Spring Valley High School on Monday was “not based on training or acceptable.”
Monday’s incident, which was captured on video, has gained national attention.
The investigation was based solely on policy violations.
“I do not feel that the proper procedures were used at that point,” said Lott about Fields throwing the student across the room.
“Deputy Ben Field did wrong this past Monday,” he said. “It’s not what I expect from my deputies, or what I tolerate from my deputies.”
Lott said both the teacher and the administrator, who is African American, supported Fields’ actions. They felt that everything he did was correct, that he didn’t use excessive force, Lott said.
“But I had problems with it,” he said. “I have to make the decision.”
The sheriff made a point of saying that the whole incident was started by the student.
The teacher and the administrator said the student was combative and not allowing the teacher to teach, Lott said.
“We have to put responsibility on her for disrupting that school, disrupting that class,” Lott said. But, “what she did does not justify what our deputy did.”
Fields was terminated for his actions, not for anything she did, Lott said.
“My decision was based on what he did as a deputy sheriff.”
Lott said Fields had been at Spring Valley for seven years and that he had tremendous support from faculty and students. There had never had been a complaint about him from people at the school, he said.
Lott was grateful for the videos that were made of the incident.
“Videos are something that we welcome,” he said. “Hopefully one day soon we’ll have them on all of our deputies.”
Any possible criminal investigation will be handled by federal and state agencies.
On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice said they launched a civil rights investigation into the incident.
In an appearance on Good Morning America on Wednesday, the lawyer for the girl who who was flipped out of her desk and tossed across the room said his client was injured in the incident.
Todd Rutherford said the teen has a cast on her arm and suffered neck and back injuries in the confrontation. Rutherford also said the girl suffered a rug burn on her forehead.
Lott had said Tuesday that the girl “may have had a rug burn” but otherwise was not injured.
One of the three recordings of the incident showed the teen striking Fields.
Rutherford said his client may have struck the officer as she reacted to being grabbed by the neck.