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Disturbing Video Shows School Cop Body Slam and Drag a Black Female Student

Author: Jaeah Lee, a reporter at Mother Jones.

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Authorities in Richland County, South Carolina, are investigating a video that surfaced Monday showing a uniformed officer aggressively confronting a high school student. Local station WIS-TV reports that county sheriff's deputies are investigating the incident, which took place on Monday at Spring Valley High School, according to school officials. The video, which appears to have been recorded on a cellphone by a classmate, shows a white male officer standing over a black female student sitting at her desk; moments later he grabs the student and flips her on her back. After dragging her across the floor, the officer says, "Hands behind your back—give me your hands." The video has no additional context as to what led to or followed the altercation.

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Nov 13
Abubakar Touray (Nov 13 2015 10:13PM) : I think what that cop did was worng . [Edited] more

He should of just nicely told the student to exit the class or send someone else to escort her out the class because what he did was wrong he should of never put his hands on a female

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Nov 17
Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:54PM) : agree more

Yes, no one (female or male) should be treated that way in my opinion. Did it bother you that the other kids just watched that happen? I wonder if they did or said anything. (Hard to tell in the video)

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Nov 23
Jaylen Hostos (Nov 23 2015 7:10PM) : That is okay
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Devon Minix (Nov 16 2015 10:28PM) : Lucky they record the thing the cop did to the girl. more

Because the cop was trying to take the girl phone.But she was not going to give the cop the phone.So the cop pick the girl up

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Nov 17
Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:54PM) : other ways more

Might there have been other ways to get the phone without throwing her on the ground?

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Nov 6
Cory Hughley (Nov 06 2015 5:24PM) : i don't think that officer should of put his hands on that little girl more

That officer should of been stop when he was putting hands on her

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Nov 12
Hunter Ward (Nov 12 2015 8:21PM) : So I agree with you buuuuut [Edited] more

The actions of the cop were insanely over the top, however, if the girl had done everything that she was told to do then this incident wouldn’t have occurred. They are both partly in the fault for what happened .

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Nov 17
Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:55PM) : proportional response more

It seem to me that there could have been other ways to handle this, no?

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Mark Lunetta (Nov 12 2015 8:24PM) : What exactly is the officers jurisdiction??? more

The officer should not be able to do this without legal reasons for it. Even disrespect that could have happened towards the officer should not result in this.

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Jaylen Hostos (Nov 13 2015 7:08PM) : They should loose they job more

That is very crazy

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Nov 16
Faith Castaneda (Nov 16 2015 4:52PM) : There video and one of the classmate was shooting the arrest the police officer was on a black female. more

I think that this is studied because why would I go on a black person if

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Abraham Villanueva (Nov 16 2015 7:02PM) : hands behind your back [Edited] more

the officer is arresting the girl because she refused to give up her phone

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"Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland County School District Two, particularly with families and children of color," a local black parents group wrote in a statement responding to the video.

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Cory Hughley (Nov 06 2015 5:28PM) : i think the officer was just being to much of a cop and should of just took the phone not put hands on her more

that cop was doing to much of his job because what if somebody did that to his daughter he would of felt disrespected

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Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:57PM) : put yourself in their place more

Good point…how would we feel if someone did this to someone in our family?

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Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WIS-TV that the school resource officer (SRO) was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class. "The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused," Lott said. "The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO."

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Cory Hughley (Nov 06 2015 5:32PM) : he should of call back up to escort her out the class room more

Because that is a female he is male that is being a coward

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Nov 17
Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:58PM) : male/female more

When I watched this, I didn’t think of the male/female issue…I just thought about power structures and who’s “in charge.”

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The video is the latest in a series of disturbingly violent altercations involving school cops. As Mother Jones first reported in July, there have been at least 29 incidents in the United States since 2010 in which school-based police officers used questionable force against students in K-12 schools, many of which caused serious injuries, and in one case death. Data on use of force by school cops is lacking even as the number of officers on campus has ballooned over the past two decades, with little training or oversight.

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Cory Hughley (Nov 06 2015 5:35PM) : those cops do not know how to do they job they should not be working for the nypd more

i think that because there are to many kids being hurt past few years

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Update, 6:15 p.m. EDT: Here is a statement released by the school district, via local TV reporter Megan Rivers:

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Update, October 27, 2015, 1:30 p.m. EDT: US Department of Justice and FBI officials in South Carolina announced on Tuesday that they have opened a federal investigation into Monday's incident.

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Update, October 28, 2015, 1:36 p.m. EDT: Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Wednesday that the officer in the video, identified as deputy sheriff Ben Fields, was fired from his post. Lott and school district leaders have criticized the violent encounter. Lott said he did not think race played a role in the incident, explaining that the deputy had dated an African American woman for "quite some time." He also said the student in the video should be held responsible for disturbing the classroom, though her behavior did not justify what the deputy did.

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Chokeholds, Brain Injuries, Beatings: When School Cops Go Bad

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At least 28 students have been seriously injured—and one killed—in the past 5 years.

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Jaylen Hostos (Nov 16 2015 10:28PM) : That is very crazy more

Yo that is really crazy I really would fight that cop that is very mean I would really fought that cop it really been a cop WAR STAR that really got mad at the people that is good

A Louisville police officer is facing assault and misconduct charges after his alleged use of force at a middle school.
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Over the past year, video footage from around the country of law enforcement officers killing citizens, many of them black, has brought scrutiny on policing in the streets. Yet, another disturbing police problem has drawn far less attention: Use of force by cops in schools. According to news reports and data collected by advocacy groups, over the past five years at least 28 students have been seriously injured, and in one case shot to death, by so-called school resource officers—sworn, uniformed police assigned to provide security on K-12 campuses.

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Cory Hughley (Nov 10 2015 5:15PM) : Thats sad because cops dont know how to do they job more

There shoul’d not be no reason that 28 childern been hurt past this year

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Nov 17
Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:59PM) : agree more

Maybe the police officers need training on how else to deal with problems (or maybe they need to find different jobs — not everyone is cut out for this work)

As with the officer-involved killings that have been thrust into the national spotlight, government data on police conduct in schools is lacking. And while serious use of force by officers against school kids appears to be rare, experts also point to a troubling lack of training and oversight, and a disproportionate impact on minority and disabled students.

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Sarah Hayes (Nov 12 2015 8:21PM) : Extensive training is needed. more

Ignorance is dangerous, especially in a person in a position of authority. If school guards (as well as all school staff) were given sensitivity training and the training specializing in how to effectively enforce rules with minimal physical intervention.

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Karen Fasimpaur (Nov 17 2015 7:59PM) : exactly!
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Here are some of the recent cases, which Mother Jones has looked into further:

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  • Chokehold and a brain injury: In March, Louisville Metro Police officer Jonathan Hardin was fired after his alleged use of force in two incidents at Olmsted Academy North middle school: He was accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line, and a week later of puttinganother 13-year-old student in a chokehold, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury. In April, a grand jury indicted Hardin on assault and misconduct charges for the chokehold incident, and his trial is pending. The Jefferson County Attorney's Office is also considering charges against Hardin over the punching incident, a spokesperson for the attorney's office told Mother Jones. Hardin's attorney declined to comment, citing the ongoing criminal litigation.
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    Nov 10
    Cory Hughley (Nov 10 2015 5:27PM) : jonathan hardin put his hands on a 13 year old child because he was cutting the lunch line a other officer that dont know how to do they job he should of talk to him [Edited]
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  • Beating with a baton: In May 2014, Cesar Suquet, then a 16-year-old high school student in Houston, was being escorted by an officer out of the principal's office after a discussion about Suquet's confiscated cell phone. Following a verbal exchange, police officer Michael Y'Barbo struck Suquet at least 18 times with a police baton, injuring him on his head, neck and elsewhere, according to the lawsuit Suquet's family filed against the Pasadena Independent School District. In its response to the incident (which was captured on video according to court documents), the school district admitted that Y'Barbo struck Suquet but denied allegations of wrongdoing. Y'Barbo, in his response, denied striking Suquet on the head, stating that he acted "within his discretionary duties" and that his use of force was "reasonable and necessary." A spokesperson for the school district told Mother Jones that Y'Barbo remains on regular assignment including patrol.
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  • Taser-induced brain injury: In November 2013, student Noe Nino de Rivera was trying to break up a fight at Cedar Creek High School in Bastrop County, Texas, when two officers arrived and told Nino de Rivera to step back. Within moments, one of the officers, Randy McMillan, tased the 17-year-old, who fell to the ground and hit his head. Nino de Rivera was taken to a hospital, where he "underwent surgery to repair a severe brain hemorrhage and was placed in a medically induced coma," according to the family's lawsuit against McMillan, Bastrop County, and the school district. The teen remained in a coma for 52 days, a family attorney told CNN. Attorneys representing the county said that Nino de Rivera had failed to comply with orders and that McMillan "used the reasonable amount of necessary force to maintain and control discipline at the school." In May 2014, a grand jury declined to indict McMillan, and that month he received a promotion. Three months later, the county agreed to pay Nino de Rivera's family $775,000 to settle the lawsuit.
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Noe Nino de Rivera after he was hospitalized. Photo courtesy of the family
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  • Shot to death: On November 12, 2010, 14-year-old Derek Lopez stepped off a school bus outside of Northside Alternative High School, near San Antonio, and punched another student, knocking him to the ground. Officer Daniel Alvarado witnessed the altercation and ordered Lopez to freeze, and then chased a fleeing Lopez to a shed behind a house, where he fatally shot him. Alvarado latertestified that Lopez had "bull-rushed" him as he opened the shed door. Lopez, who was unarmed, died soon afterward. In August 2012, a grand jury declinedto indict Alvarado. The Northside Independent School District school board lateragreed to pay a $925,000 settlement to Lopez's family. Alvarado has since been terminated from Northside for unrelated reasons, an attorney for the school district told Mother Jones.
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    Nov 10
    Cory Hughley (Nov 10 2015 5:41PM) : That cop made the wrong choice to shoot that kid the cop should of taz the kid besides shooting him more

    THAT officer should been fired from his job and been doing jail time

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    Nov 30
    Thomas Clavette (Nov 30 2015 9:34PM) : agree more

    He should have been discharged from the police force and served time in jail for killing an unarmed subject.

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    Nov 10
    Cory Hughley (Nov 10 2015 5:41PM) : he should of been doing jail time

The US and state governments do not specifically collect data on police conduct in K-12 schools. But some data has been gathered at the county and state level by the ACLU and other advocacy groups, including in Texas and North Carolina. Using news reports, the Huffington Post identified at least 25 students in 13 states recently who sought medical attention after getting tased, peppersprayed, or shot with a stun gun by school resource officers. (For more on these harsh tactics and a lawsuit they led to, read this Mother Jones story.)

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The US Justice Department spent $876 million to fund nearly 7,000 school resource officers nationwide after Columbine, and another $67 million following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
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From the war on drugs to "zero tolerance policies," cops have been utilized in K-12 schools for decades. But the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 caused their ranks to swell, with the number of police officers patrolling K-12 campuses approximately doubling to 20,000 by 2006, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers. The US Department of Justice spent an estimated $876 million after Columbine to fund nearly 7,000 school resource officers across the country. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, the DOJhas spent another $67 million to fund an additional 540 cops in schools. Many school districts and local police departments have funded their own sworn law enforcement personnel for the job.

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But much about this field remains unclear: According to a recent report from Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green University criminologist, "The existing research offers few answers to such basic questions as to how SROs are selected, the nature and extent of SRO training, and the strategic uses of SROs."

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Michael Dorn, a former school district police chief in Georgia, says that misconduct cases by school cops are rare and that overall their presence has helped improve campus safety. But the programs need to be better evaluated based on data, he adds. Studies in some school districts have shown that school cops helped reduce crime, truancy, and bullying. But others have found that the presence of cops in schools leads to increased ticketing and arrests for minor infractions. Jason Langberg, an attorney in Virginia who has represented victims of alleged abuse, explains that many officers end up stepping into matters of routine student discipline. They deal with "minor scuffles, a bag of marijuana, or even just talking back," he says. "The vast majority of incidents don't involve guns in schools."

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Dewey Cornell, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who studies school safety, suggests that the rise of school cops has been based on misguided fear. After Sandy Hook, the NRA proposed putting them in every single school in America. But relative to overall gun violence, "schools are one of the least likely places for a shooting to occur, and pulling officers off the street and putting them on guard in a school lobby is short-sighted and dangerous," Cornell says. "The fear of school shootings has been greatly overestimated because of the attention to a handful of tragic cases."

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Black students are arrested by school cops at a disproportionate rate, according to recent data from the US Department of Education.
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Last March, the US Department of Education reportedthat 92,000 students were subject to school-related arrests in the 2011-2012 academic year, the first time the agency collected and published such data. Black students comprised 16 percent of the total students enrolled but accounted for 31 percent of arrests. And a quarter of the total arrested were students with disabilities, despite that they comprised only 12 percent of the student population. In recommendations to the White House published in May, the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing advised that law enforcement agencies analyze data on all stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests—and seperate out the data for school detentions. "Noncriminal offenses can escalate to criminal charges when officers are not trained in child and adolescent development," the report noted.

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Often young police officers are on the job, according to the advocacy group Strategies for Youth, which works with police departments and school districts on training. Yet, a national survey conducted in 2013 by the group found that police academies in only one state, Tennessee, offered training specifically for officers deployed to schools. The majority of academies, the survey noted, "do not teach recruits how to recognize and respond to youth with mental health, trauma-related and special education-related disorders."

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In February, Michael Reynolds, a black high school student in Detroit, testified to the task force about an interaction with a cop at his school. "Before I could explain why I did not have my [student] badge I was escorted to the office and suspended for an entire week," he said. "Many young people today have fear of the police in their communities and schools."

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JAEAH LEE

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Reporter

Jaeah Lee is a reporter at Mother Jones. Email her at jlee[at]motherjones.com. Follow her onTwitter. RSS |

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DMU Timestamp: October 27, 2015 10:51

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Nov 12
Jade Seiler (Nov 12 2015 8:17PM) : The officer should not have reacted that way. more

If the girl was not cooperating the way that the officer wanted her to then he should have used gentle force, like taking her arm and pulling her out of her seat. Instead of resorting to immediate violence, the officer should have assessed the situation better.

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  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

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