October 28, 2015

Watson Coleman: We Should Not Have to Ask Whether the Student Provoked the Officer, Because There Are No Circumstances in Which His Actions Are Acceptable

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC (OCTOBER 28, 2015) ― Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) issued the following statement after Richland County, South Carolina officials announced the termination of Deputy Ben Fields’ employment following videos of a violent interaction between Fields and a student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina:

“I could barely watch the video of the young girl being attacked by Deputy Ben Fields in her own classroom.  The actions of Deputy Fields are reprehensible, outrageous, and unfortunately indicative of the systemic problems in law enforcement.  Watching a man in uniform body slam a child, in a classroom, as her peers watch, is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.  Much of the media commentary has been no better.  We should not have to ask whether the student provoked the officer, because there are no circumstances in which his actions are acceptable.

“Richland County officials have recently announced Deputy Field’s termination, and I believe that they made the right decision.  He must also be held accountable through the legal process, and I am confident that the FBI and Justice Department will thoroughly investigate this case.  But the discussion about appropriate use of force by law enforcement , especially when it comes to children, needs to continue.  We’ve seen countless videos of violent interactions between young people and police in situations that appear entirely avoidable – at pool parties, in public parks, and in schools.  We need an honest and earnest discussion, and we need action that leads to positive changes in law enforcement.”