Transcript for FBI Opens Investigation Into South Carolina Classroom Confrontation
Now to the new outrage over that violent confrontation in a South Carolina classroom. The FBI is now investigating. The deputy who slammed the student to the ground. ABC's Mary Bruce has the story. Reporter: This morning, the FBI opening an investigation into this disturbing confrontation. As new details about the school officer involved surface. ABC news learning that students call him officer slam. Some arguing this shocking classroom takedown shows why. Are you gonna come with me? Reporter: The principal vowing to make changes. Our district and our school have zero tolerance for what occurred. I personally have zero tolerance as well. Reporter: The sheriff investigating. The student was wrong in what she did. There's no doubt about that. It started with her and it ended with my officer. What I'm going to deal with is what my deputy did. Reporter: The incident prompted when the student who reportedly had been using her cell phone repeatedly refused to leave the classroom when reprimanded. That's when Ben fields is called in. When she still refuses, grabs the 16-year-old female student violently slamming her to the ground. Put your hands behind your back. When deputy fields came in there we knew what was about to happen. Reporter: Last year he was honored as an exceptional role model but this is not the first time he's been accused 6 misconduct. In 2007 he was sued accused of using excessive force. In that case the jury sided with fields. A second lawsuit filed by another student is heading to trial. And, robin, this morning police say they are investigating yet another video that they say shows the student striking the officer with her fist. All right, Mary, thank you very much. We'll talk more about that because joining us now from Columbia, South Carolina, is Todd Rutherford. He is the attorney for the girl seen in that violent confrontation. Mr. Rutherford, thank you very much for being with us this morning. Let me begin by asking you what has your client told you about what happened in the classroom that day? As you can see in the tape, she doesn't say anything when the officer approaches her and she said that they requested her cell phone. She put it away immediately and so when they continued to ask for her cell phone she simply didn't want to give it to him. When the officer came in he asked her to leave and she wanted to Tay in the classroom. She wanted to continue her education. Unfortunately for her that wasn't in the cards and the officer placed his arm around the neck. You can see her kind of reacting and whether it's an intate reaction to try to get his hand off or whether she's never been choked before she either way starts reaching up and punching his arm and then he throws her to the ground and tosses her all the way across the room. It's one of the most disturbing videos I've seen especially one that involves a child. Disturbing is the word we've heard over and over again. People have that type of reaction. That is a video that people have seen. Police officers are saying there is another video and there are reports that the young woman struck the officer with her fist leading to the confrontation starting the confrontation. Has she told you anything about that? Can you shed any light on that? Absolutely not, robin and I think what they're referring to are the same hits she delivered while she was being choked and I would submit it doesn't matter. This was not a roadside confrontation or a confrontation where he didn't know the security of his surroundings. He was in a classroom setting. In fact, had he just left her alone she would have sat there and continued with class. He didn't do that. He couldn't do that on his own. He simply had to make sure that he asserted his authority as a 300-pound weight lifting man and tossed her so far across the room that it was out of frame. He had to walk several steps to where her body landed. She now has a cast on her arm. She has neck and back injuries. She has a band-aid on her forehead where she suffered rug burn. She was brutally attacked by a cop who the sheriff is saying we need a civil rights investigation. All the sheriff is doing is taking us down a rabbit hole. Her civil rights weren't violated, her simple rights were violated. You should never be able to treat a child and student about that. The sheriff said he is going to deal more with the actions of his officer, not the actions of the young woman, your client, but the actions of the officer and the investigation. It sounds like you're not pleased with how the investigation is proceeding. I'm not pleased at all and I would actually differ with the notion the sheriff has been out in front with anything. He's way behind. His officer is known as officer slam. Take out your cell phone because we're going to see something and the world has seen what they were expecting. What she was expecting. The deputy needs to be in handcuffs and should have been as soon as the sheriff saw the video. Tom, thanks for your time this morning. All the best. Thank you. The officer in question is on suspension, unpaid leave and feel today there will be a determination if indeed he will keep his job. Many more investigations to We got the latest now on
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