The video of now ex-South Carolina Deputy Ben Fields’ violent arrest of a teenage girl in Richland County South Carolina has made its way over the airwaves and across social media sites. If you haven’t seen it, you must. No explanation I could provide here would do justice to just how shamefully violent this law enforcement officer was toward a child.
I was outraged when I saw the video, and I continue to grow even more upset every time I see it. What is incomprehensible to me, is not that the deputy had zero regard for the safety or well-being of a person he is sworn to protect, but that he believed he could get away with the abuse of a child in the middle of a classroom. This was a child, sitting in a desk in a classroom, who while clearly defiant and disrespectful, posed no physical threat to herself, her classmates, her teacher, or the abusing deputy. Nevertheless, ex-Deputy Fields proceeded to put the child in her place by knocking her to the ground while still in her desk, then dragging and throwing her across the classroom before arresting her and charging her with the South Carolina offense of “disturbing school”.
I continue to ask the question I’ve asked since my initial viewing of the video: What if she had been my daughter? And my response remains the same: Thank God she wasn’t.
I was pleased to hear that Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has terminated Ben Fields. But I’m not satisfied with Fields’ termination. Termination is a sufficient form of discipline for an employee who consistently fails to adequately perform his job, who consistently fails to meet performance standards, or who commits an act serious enough to warrant ending the employment relationship, but not quite rising to the level of being criminal. What ex-Deputy Fields committed, on the other hand, was a felony. He abused his position as a deputy and unmercifully treated a child with reckless abandon. He tossed a child across the classroom like she was a rag doll; as if she had no worth. If Fields had treated a dog like he treated this child, there would have been calls for his termination on the basis of animal cruelty. But he didn’t abuse a dog; he abused a child.
So I’m not satisfied with Fields’ termination. There is nothing this child could have said or done that warranted being treated in the manner she was treated. Fields abused and hurt a child; not someone’s dog, but someone’s child. And for that, he be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. A message must be sent to Fields and to would-be child abusers wearing police uniforms that such behavior is not only impermissible, but such action will land them in jail.