While President Obama was speaking to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago on Tuesday, one sheriff who attended the event had to fly home early to deal with a police brutality situation.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, in Columbia, South Carolina, had a situation where one of his officers slammed a 16-year-old student to the floor in a classroom.
Apparently the girl refused to stop using her phone and turn it over to her teacher and leave the class as she was instructed. An officer, who works at the school, came to the class and when she refused to comply she grabbed her, flipped her over, slammed her to the ground and then dragged her across the room. He arrested her and another student who protested the way he was treating the girl.
This was all caught on video. Three actually. In one, the sheriff pointed out that the girl hit the deputy. I saw the same video. It appears she swings while she’s going sideways in mid flip. Unless the girl has some secret ninja skills we’re unaware of then I don’t think she could have implemented a strategy to actually hurt the officer. Her “punch” which looked like a wild flail, was probably inadvertent and it seemed it barely touched the officer.
What bothers me in addition to the police brutality is the defense of the officer. It amazes me that people are saying if the girl had acted properly then the cop wouldn’t have had to abuse her. They also say we don’t have all the information.
What I find interesting about the cop defenders is that they want us to be patient for more details on the situation before we judge the cop, but they don’t need more information to judge the student. They take it on blind faith that she deserved a hard slam to the floor.
The officer is suspended and by the time you read this he may be a former cop. There’s an investigation and the sheriff promises to have a decision on Wednesday. He’s also asked the FBI to investigate, which is good as that will be independent of the local police department. The Justice Department wants a piece of the action too.
The cop should be arrested. He assaulted a child. Her non-threatening behavior did not warrant the officer’s reaction. I predict he will be fired and the department will be sued and they will settle out of court. The officer may be sued also and I still think he should face charges.
In addition to all this the student is black. Would the reaction be different if the girl was white? Yes. More white people would be upset, especially if the officer was black…or if it was a black teacher. Yeah, I said it. But, I honestly don’t know if there was a racial component to this. The officer, Ben Fields, is currently facing a charge accusing him of “recklessly targeting African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity.” He previously won another case where he was sued for excessive force.
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