Today’s press conference announcing Deputy Ben Fields’ termination was some serious bull.
As he addressed reporters in a press conference about firing Fields for brutally handling a Black female high school student in a Richland County classroom, Local Sheriff Leon Lott flat out blamed the student for the assault. During his speech, Lott spoke extensively about enforcing “discipline” in his district’s classrooms.
Lott cited statements from the administrator and the teacher who were present at the time, saying:
“The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and was not allowing the students to learn. She was very disruptive, she was very disrespectful, and she started this whole incident with her actions.”
“Of course, Lott had to mention that the administrator that was initially called to the classroom was African American as well, as if that changes anything or makes this incident any less bogus or disgusting. I suppose Lott’s excessive victim-blaming wouldn’t be quite as grating or suspicious if he actually had more concrete information on the history of the student and the details of her “disruptive” behavior. Numerous times during the conference, Lott failed to answer questions specifying what the student had said or done that was so disrespectful to warrant her being disciplined in the first place.
Lott commented that he did not approve of how Fields handled the situation. Although Fields was within his rights (based on local policy) to put his hands on the student to detain her, his excessive force was inappropriate and inconsistent with his training.
“What he should not have done was thrown the student…when he threw her across the room, he lost control of her. That’s not acceptable.”
Although it was previously reported that the assault victim was hurt in the attack, her attorney later announced that she sustained injuries on her face, neck and back and has her arm in a cast. The NY Daily News reports that the 16-year-old is currently living in a foster home, as she was recently orphaned when her mother passed. The victim’s foster mother is doing her best to keep the victim’s identity concealed from the public; the foster mother told the Daily News that she wanted to avoid traumatizing the victim even more by overexposing her amid the media frenzy surrounding the attack.
Up until today, Fields was on suspension without pay. The FBI has been contacted for a criminal investigation; the US Justice Department has already begun reviewing the episode since yesterday.
Lott continued to say that he was appreciative of the videos that were taken of the incident as they as they have facilitated the investigation thus far. However, he has also emphasized that videos only told one part of the story and that he’s committed to maintaining a good relationship with the school’s local community.
Fields has not expressed any remorse over the incident, according to Lott, and is apparently only “sorry that his whole thing occurred” and that “it was not his intent.”
Hmph. I’m not impressed. Let’s hope that the FBI gets involved and that the US Justice Department gives the assault victim the atonement she deserves.