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Sheriff Fires South Carolina Deputy Who Flipped High School Student

Fields was placed on unpaid administrative leave after a video surfaced Monday of him picking up and throwing a high school student.

Last updated on October 28, 2015, at 12:22 p.m. ET

Posted on October 28, 2015, at 11:58 a.m. ET

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott on Wednesday fired Deputy Ben Fields, who was caught on video picking up and throwing a student out of her chair during class in Columbia, South Carolina.

"Fields did not follow proper training and proper procedure when he threw the student across the room," Lott said, adding that he specifically did not agree with the "maneuvers that were used."

Lott placed some of the responsibility on the female student for starting the incident by refusing to put away her phone and leave the classroom.

"We must not lose sight that the whole incident was started by this student," Lott said, adding that it still doesn't excuse the deputy's actions.

"I can tell you what he should not have done. He should not have thrown the student. He could have done a lot of things he was trained to do," Lott said, adding the officer feels sorry the incident occurred.

Lott added that Fields "has had complaints in the past, some of them have been sustained" and some not, though none came from the school district. He refused to elaborate on the complaints further, saying he did not have all the details available.

Fields was reportedly called to the Spring Valley High School classroom after a student was being disruptive and refused to leave after being asked to do so by a teacher, Lt. Curtis Wilson, said a spokesperson for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.


"We must not lose sight that the whole incident was started by this student," Lott said, adding that it still doesn't excuse the deputy's actions.

In the video, Fields can be seen walking over the to female student — reportedly a junior or senior in high school — grabbing her, and flipping her to the ground while she is in her desk. He then picks her up and throws her.

After the video surfaced, Fields was placed on administrative leave as federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation.

Fields joined the sheriff’s department in 2004 and became a school resource officer four years later.

An instructor at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy told BuzzFeed News that Fields was not taught to use defensive tactics, including physical restraint, in his training to be a school resource officer.

"We don't teach defensive tactics during this course," instructor Florence McCants told BuzzFeed News.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.