The South Carolina high school resource officer who knocked a female student out of her desk and dragged her across the room has been fired.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott made the announcement during a noon press conference. Officer Ben Fields responded inappropriately to the student's defiance, according to Lott.
"When he threw her across the room, that's when I made my decision," said Lott.
The sheriff noted that the student was still in the wrong—she disobeyed orders given to her by teachers, staff, and Officer Fields. But that did not excuse Fields' behavior, according to Lott.
"The student's behavior as not what I looked at," he said. "He was terminated for his actions."
Lott's appraisal of the situation essentially mirrors what I wrote yesterday:
Spring Valley High School Resource Officer Ben Fields' decision to knock a defiant female student out of her desk, drag her across a classroom, and pin her against the floor—a horrific assault captured on video and widely shared on social media—was completely unjustified.
It was unjustified, no matter how much inappropriate behavior preceded it. It was unjustified, even if school authorities had every reason to expel the student from the classroom. It was unjustified, precisely because there is no conceivable circumstance in which it's okay for a cop to brutalize an unarmed, unthreatening teen girl.
Perhaps this will chasten conservatives who leapt to the defense of the officer. National Review's David French wrote:
After watching and re-watching the incident, I keep coming to the same conclusion: This is what happens when a person resists a lawful order from a police officer to move (UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that a third video shows the student hitting the officer in the face when he initially put his hands on her). Unless the school is willing to have one student commandeer the classroom indefinitely, the officer has few options beyond physical force — and the use of physical force is rarely pretty to see. In this instance, the use of force was decisive, brief, and did not physically harm the student.
But the use of force certainly could have harmed the student—she was flung backward out of her desk, onto the floor. Even if physical force was justified, the cop applied it in a manner disproportionate to what was needed.
This isn't just my opinion, evidently. It's the verdict of Fields' boss, the sheriff.