The firing of school resource officer Ben Fields after he was caught on video roughing up a female student is too little, too late, the attorney representing the student says.
“This is the worst investigation that I have seen,” said Todd Rutherford, Columbia attorney and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. “I am embarrassed as a citizen of Richland County and as someone who knows the sheriff. He could have done better, and he didn’t. He chose not to.”
Rutherford is defending the girl charged with disturbing schools after Fields pulled her from her chair during a class at Spring Valley High School and slid her across the floor Monday. He also represents Niya Kenny, who was arrested on the same charge for interfering with the officer while defending the girl.
Though the sheriff fired Fields after an internal investigation, Rutherford says it took far too long for that to happen. Additionally, he said Kenny should not have been charged for standing up for the other student.
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“She told the other kids, ‘Take out your phones, because something is going to happen,’” Rutherford said. “She was right. She stood up and requested the administrator or the teacher to do something, and in doing so, officer Fields left the room, came back, and approached this 18-year-old girl, this 18-year-old student, and said, ‘Do you want some of this too?’ So he’s threatening to beat an 18-year-old student who is not doing anything but standing up for her friend – not physically, just standing up, saying, ‘Isn’t anyone going to do anything about this?’”
Rutherford said a civil suit would have to wait until the criminal charges against the girls were resolved.