The Spring Valley High School student arrested for defending a classmate after she was thrown on the ground by Richland County Officer Ben Fields said on Tuesday that the deputy had a reputation for violence among students.
Niya Kenny told MSNBC host Chris Hayes:
“I’ve heard about him, so I wasn’t really surprised, because I’ve heard so much about him. Before he came to the class, I was actually telling [classmates], ‘Take out your cameras because I feel like this is gonna go downhill because I’ve heard so much about him.’”
“What do you mean, you’d heard things about him?”
“He’s known as ‘Officer Slam’ around our school. I’ve heard he’s in the past slammed pregnant women, teenage girls. He’s known for slamming.”
Kenny was arrested after protesting Fields’ treatment of the unidentified classmate, which she said stemmed from her refusal to turn in her cell phone to a teacher.
That teacher called an administrator, leading to Fields being called in to remove her from the classroom. Kenny rejected the argument that the girl was being disruptive.
She told Hayes:
“She’s a quiet girl. She doesn’t do anything to anyone in the class. It was really because she wouldn’t give up her phone.”
Attorney Todd Rutherford, who is representing both Kenny and the girl, told ABC News that after being flipped out of her seat and thrown onto the floor by Fields, the girl has an arm in a cast, pain in her back and neck, and a rug burn on her forehead.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating the incident, while Sheriff Leon Lott said in a press conference on Tuesday that he expected to conclude his own probe within 24 hours. He also expressed doubt that race was a factor in the violent arrest.
“I make that decision based on personal knowledge about this deputy. He’s been dating an African-American female for quite some time now. Does that have some bearing on his thought process? It may have. But I would think that would have it in a positive way and not on a negative way.”