On Thursday a lawyer for the South Carolina teen who was violently assaulted by a school resource officer appeared on activist Joe Madison’s radio show on Sirius to clarify remarks posted about the teen and the incident.
On Monday, video of the incident between Spring Valley High School resource officer Ben Fields and the teen went viral. The footage showed the officer slamming the teen out of her seat and then tossing her across the room. Since the release of the footage, Fields has been fired from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI and U.S. Justice Department are investigating the incident to determine whether the former senior deputy will face charges.
In a New York Daily News article posted Wednesday, attorney Todd Rutherford was quoted as saying that the 16-year-old girl was an orphan who recently lost her mother and grandmother. In the interview with Madison, Rutherford stated that the girl’s biological mother and grandmother were alive.
The Daily News corrected the story but noted that the child is in foster care. The lawyer for the girl, however, refused to state whether this is true. When asked directly whether the girl is in foster care, the lawyer replied, “I can tell you that her mother and her grandmother are not dead and that I met with her at 5:30 in the morning with the mother and the child.”
Rutherford noted that several people have attempted to create fake crowdfunding pages, making it difficult for the family to set up an actual page to help cover legal costs. “We are trying to set up a GoFundMe page; it’s difficult because I think so many people are fraudulently trying to set them up, so GoFundMe has stopped it,” he said. “We are working with them trying to do that, and we should have that up and running today.”
The attorney also explained that the incident arose over a cellphone; he claims that cellphones are allowed in the school. According to Rutherford, the teacher asked that all students put their cellphones away, but the teen didn’t put hers away fast enough, and the teacher demanded that she hand it over.
“This is not a child with a great deal of means,” Rutherford said. “This is not a child where a cellphone came easy. This is probably the most valuable possession this child has. So for the teacher to try and take that, to her, was shocking, so she simply sat there quietly.”
Rutherford noted that the child is still facing charges for disrupting school, a South Carolina law that carries 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. He also noted that he is counsel for Niya Kenny, who was also arrested after she stood up to protest the treatment of her classmate.
Officials for the Richland County Police Department claimed that no injuries arose from the incident, but Rutherford told WLTX that his client suffered multiple injuries as a result of the officer’s assault.
“He weighs about 300 pounds,” Rutherford said. “She is a student who is 16 years old who now has a cast on her arm, a Band-Aid on her neck, and neck and back problems. There’s something wrong here.”