Randy Hagler, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ chief of police, said there are no specific rules on removing a student, other than to use “the least amount of force necessary.”
“If you have to remove a student, you have to remove a student,” he said Tuesday. “If they won’t comply, you’re going to have to at some point put your hands on them and move them. ... It’s never pretty and it always looks bad.”
On Tuesday, a federal civil rights probe was launched after a South Carolina girl who refused to surrender her phone after texting in class was flipped backward and tossed across the classroom floor by a sheriff’s deputy.
The sheriff said that the girl “may have had a rug burn” but was not injured and that the teacher and vice-principal felt the officer acted appropriately. Still, videos of the confrontation between a white officer and black teenager stirred such outrage that he called the FBI and Justice Department for help.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott suspended Senior Deputy Ben Fields without pay and said what he did at Spring Valley High School in Columbia “made him want to throw up.” But he also pointed out that the girl can be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down. He said he's focused on the deputy's actions, not the student's.
Hagler said when a student is refusing to leave a full classroom it might be wise to get the other students out before removing the offender. That eliminates the videotaping, he said, but also avoids anyone else being put at risk if the student physically resists.
Fields has been with the Sheriff’s Department since 2004, the department said. He joined the school resource officer program in 2008, and in 2014 he received the Richland School District 2 Culture of Excellence Award.
Fields has had three lawsuits filed against him as a deputy. In one, involving an excessive-force allegation before Fields worked in schools, a federal jury found in his favor. Another case was dismissed, the Associated Press reported. The third suit, which is ongoing, alleges Fields wrongly pushed for a Richland 2 student’s expulsion. The State in Columbia and the Associated Press contributed to this report.