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Deputy Ben Fields fired in wake of teen-drag video

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A deputy who flipped a disruptive student out of her desk and tossed her across her math class floor was fired yesterday.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the deputy's actions "unacceptable," and said videos recorded by her classmates show the girl, who has not been identified, posed no danger to anyone.

"What he should not have done is throw the student," Lott said. "Police officers make mistakes too. They're human and they need to be held accountable, and that's what we've done with Deputy Ben Fields."

Civil rights groups praised the swift action against Fields, a veteran school resource officer and football coach at Spring Valley High School. Outrage spread quickly after videos of the white officer arresting the black teenager on Monday appeared on the Internet.

Lott thanked school officials for promising to review how police are used for discipline.

"Maybe that ought to have been something handled by the school without ever calling the deputy," he said.

The sheriff also had stern words for the student who started the confrontation by refusing to hand over her cellphone after her math teacher saw her texting in class -- a violation of school policy.

Both she and another student who verbally challenged the officer's actions during the arrest still face misdemeanor charges of disturbing schools.

"It doesn't justify his actions. But again, she needs to be held responsible for what she did," Lott said. -- AP

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