UPDATE: 12:15 p.m. EDT — Ben Fields, the South Carolina school resource officer who was caught on camera grabbing a high school student by the neck and throwing her to the ground, has been terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Leon Lott said during a press conference Wednesday. Lott said Fields did not follow proper training and procedure when he threw a student to the ground and across the room Monday when the student refused to leave her seat.
Lott said the decision came after an internal investigation into whether Fields violated department policy. Fields has been placed on leave without pay until Wednesday.
Lott also said the student who refused to comply with Fields’ initial request to leave the room needs to accept responsibility, but that what she did does not justify Fields’ actions. “The incident started with a very disruptive student in a class, the student was not allowing teacher to teach and not allowing students to learn,” Lott said Wednesday.
“She started the incident, she refused to leave the class,” Lott said.
Ben Fields, the white South Carolina school resource officer who was caught on video grabbing a black high school student by the neck and slamming her to the ground, will reportedly be relieved of duty, sources told NBC News Wednesday. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott did not confirm Fields would be fired, but was scheduled to hold a noon press conference on the internal investigation his office conducted.
Fields was suspended without pay after the incident, and an internal investigation followed. The video sparked outrage on social media, and Lott himself said he wanted to vomit after he watched the initial video that came out Monday, CNN reported.
So far three videos of the incident have come out, one of which shows the girl Fields flipped hitting him. The videos show Fields standing over the teen student then grabbing her by the neck and throwing her backward before throwing her across the floor.
Lott had said he didn’t think the girl had any injuries, but a lawyer for the teen said Wednesday morning that his client had injuries because of the incident. He said she has a cast on her arm and also sustained injuries in her neck and back, the Associated Press reported.
The girl was reportedly texting on a phone Monday morning when she was told to work on a school project by her teacher. The girl refused to put the phone away, and Fields was eventually called in to take her out of the room. Fields could be heard telling the student to get up from her chair.
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The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are also investigating whether the student’s civil rights were violated in the incident. "We do not want any issues with the community or those involved having questions concerning conflicts of interest in this investigation," Lott said to CNN.
Lott has said he doesn’t think race was a factor in Field’s actions. “He's never expressed that in the past, we've never seen that," Lott said according to WLTX-TV in Columbia, South Carolina.