An incident surrounding a viral video involving a high school student and a police officer is now under investigation by both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal authorities initiated a probe on Tuesday into the circumstances surrounding an incident between a school resource officer’s actions at a high school in South Carolina the day before.
Federal investigators will be lending their assistance to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department after it was thrust into the midst of a national controversy when one of the department’s deputies overturned the student’s desk and dragged her across the classroom floor on Monday.
Since the incident, Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy, Ben Fields, has been relieved of duty. Witnesses to the incident say that the teacher called Fields to the classroom because the student refused to turn over her cellphone after she was caught using it during a lesson.
Authorities say that the sheriff’s office requested a special agent in charge from the FBI to be a part of the investigation and also for the U.S. Justice Department’s Attorney, Will Nettles to be a part of the investigation.
Following the release of a video filmed by another student in the classroom, all eyes of both the media and the public were turned on to Fields’ within the department.
Deputy Fields has been the target of at least two lawsuits for allegations of the use of excessive force and for negligence. A lawsuit filed in 2007 by a couple alleging false arrest, excessive force and violation of the right to free speech was found by a jury to be in Fields’ favor.
In another case involving the actions of Deputy Fields, Ashton James Reese, a student at Spring Valley High School, sued Fields and nine others for his allegedly unlawful expulsion in 2013.
The plaintiff claims he was the victim of a lack of due process, negligence, negligent supervision and a violation of the right to public education. The grounds for expulsion that were cited for Reese’s expulsion were “unlawful assembly of gang activity and assault and battery.”
Legal representatives for Reese stated in the suit that Deputy Fields “recklessly targets African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity.”
Reese’s lawsuit against Fields is scheduled to go to trial in January.
Getting to the facts in a case like this one can be complicated and much won’t be solved until the investigation is complete. Sometimes such a situation can take months to be resolved to find out who was at fault or if the rights of the students were violated by the excessive use of force.
No matter what the circumstances of an incident are involving the actions of others, even officers of the law, everyone is guaranteed certain rights. If you or a loved one has been involved in a similar situation, your rights need to be protected. That is the time to give the offices of Howell Law a call.
At Howell Law, we have years of experience representing clients in the Charleston area. Give us a call today at (843) 534-3004 or you may contact us by using the form here on our website.