The South Carolina police officer who was fired for violently dragging a young black girl across a classroom over use of a cellphone will not face criminal charges.
The New York Daily News reports that Richland County Solicitor Dan Johnson said in a 12-page court report Friday that he found no probable cause to charge the school resource officer in the dragging incident that sparked national outrage.
The report also notes that a witness statement saying the violent altercation between former Richland County Police Officer Ben Fields and a Spring Valley high school student “looked worse in the video than it did in the classroom.”
To the rest of us, the October video clearly shows that after the student refused to surrender her phone, Fields assaulted her. He wrapped his forearm around her neck, then flipped her and her desk backward before dragging her along the classroom floor while keeping her in a tight headlock. Fields then cuffed the student as her classmates cried in horror.
Many across the country were besides themselves in anger, especially in light of another incident caught on video showing an officer throwing a young black girl in a swimsuit thrown down to the ground in Texas, more evidence of the violence that young people of color—girls, too—are regularly subjected to (that officer did not face charges either.)
Fields had no regrets about his actions, according to his statement in the report.
“I realized that I was going to have to physically remove the student from her seat to effectuate her arrest,” he said, adding that the desk only flipped over because the student locked her legs inside it.
Fields’ supervisor, Sheriff Leon Lott, said he wanted to “throw up” upon seeing the video and fired Fields immediately. Yet Johnson said that Lott’s actions were hasty and may have hampered the case against Fields.
“These administrative actions, taken prior to the completion of the investigation, have been injurious to the prosecution of the case,” Johnson said in the report (which leads one to believe that if the sheriff didn’t take that action, Fields would still have a job in addition to no criminal charges.)
To add insult to injury, the girl who recorded the video, Niya Kenny, was also arrested after questioning Fields' conduct. Kenny and the student who was assaulted were charged with “disturbing schools” charges, which parents protested at the time.
Johnson noted that the charges against both students would be dropped as well.
Read more at the New York Daily News.