A South Carolina prosecutor has decided against charging a former sheriff’s deputy for his actions, caught on video, flipping a Black high school student out of her chair and throwing her across a classroom, local media reported Friday.
In a letter to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Fifth District Solicitor Dan Johnson wrote there was not probable cause to charge Ben Fields—then a Richland County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school—but that he did agree with the decision the local sheriff made to fire him two days after the incident, according to WLTX.
Johnson also dismissed charges of disturbing school that had been brought against the student and another girl in the classroom who spoke out against the incident.
A video of the arrest in October 2015 at Spring Valley High School in Columbia quickly went viral, reigniting concerns that the proliferation of police in U.S. schools can criminalize behavior once handled more quietly by school officials.
Fields could be seen in the video flipping the girl from her chair to the floor and hurtling her across a classroom before arresting her. Fields, who is white, was fired last year.
However, an investigation by the county police department found that “the incident looked worse in the video than it did in the classroom.”
Many Black Lives Matter activists were outraged by the news and said such rulings further confirm how so many police officers in the U.S. get away with racially-fueled misconduct.
“How are we supposed to respond to this injustice? It seems like America wants Colin Kaepernick, and all of us for that matter, to be silent,” Shaun King, New York Daily News journalist, said in a column on the incident Monday.
“We cannot. We must not. In fact, if this can happen in America, our protests aren’t disruptive enough,” he concluded.
Since Fields joined the sheriff’s department of Richland County in 2004, two other residents have reported his misconduct, one of him similarly rough tackling a man accused of a noise complaint, and another for wrongly accusing a student of being a member of a gang.
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