*The South Carolina police officer who yanked a high school student out of her chair and threw her across the classroom this week was fired Wednesday after videos of the incident emerged.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott spoke at a news conference Wednesday announcing that deputy Ben Fields, who is white, was fired from the department for using excessive force during the arrest of a black female student in a math class at Spring Valley High School.
The incident was captured on multiple cell phone videos and showed the officer asking the student to stand up before he grabbed the student, flipped her backwards in the chair and tossed her across the room. The deputy’s dismissal comes after the Justice Department’s office of civil rights, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, S.C., announced they were investigating the case involving Fields, a school resource officer at the high school.
Fields had been suspended without pay and banned from school district properties in the wake of the incident.
Superintendent Debbie Hamm on Tuesday called the incident “one of the most upsetting incidents I have experienced” in nearly four decades with the district, according to local television station WLTX.
James Manning, the school board chairman, called the video “shamefully shocking,” according to the Associated Press. But he and other district officials declined to answer questions about when officers should use force with students, saying that is up to the sheriff’s office, the AP reported.
A regularly scheduled school board meeting Tuesday night became an opportunity for community members to weigh in on the incident. More than a dozen parents testified, offering mixed interpretations: Some said that the officer’s actions were racially motivated, while others said that the student bears responsibility for failing to comply with directions.