Fallout continues after viral video clips surfaced last week showing a police officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. yanking a female student from her desk in a public high school math classroom.
The very raw Oct. 23 footage, which has touched off a racially-tinged nationwide debate over the use of force by police officers in schools, shows officer Ben Fields violently jerking the girl out of her combination desk and chair and forcing her to the ground. Fields, who reportedly weighs 300 pounds, then drags the girl along the floor to the front of the room. (VIDEO: School Cop SLAMS Girl To The Floor IN HER DESK, Drags Her Across Room)
Fields is white. The girl is black.
(Watch the video below.)
School officials have allowed both the unidentified 16-year-old girl and a second student who filmed the incident to return to school, area NBC affiliate WYFF-TV reported on Saturday.
Robert Long, the teacher who was teaching in the class when the incident occurred, remains on paid leave.
Long is 62 years old and has taught math at Spring Valley High since 1999.
A substitute teacher is teaching indefinitely in Long’s place, Richland School District 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said.
The incident occurred because the girl broke a school rule by briefly checking her mobile phone in class. When Long asked her to give him the phone, she refused to relinquish it. Long then called in assistance from Spring Valley High administrators who in turn called in Fields.
One contingent of students at the South Carolina school has criticized Long for allowing an in-class dispute over a mobile phone to escalate into the violent altercation.
Some students took to Twitter after the incident to denounce Long, reports the Daily Mail.
“[T]his happened at spring valley high school, mr longs room. When I asked mr long if he felt bad for what happened to her,” student Aron Johnson tweeted, “his reply was ‘she should have cooperated.'”
“‘The girl in the video was new to our class, and she was quiet like she never talked to anyone,” Johnson also tweeted.
Another student said it wasn’t clear to many other students in the classroom why or exactly what was happening when Fields approached the girl.
“I was here and nobody even knew what she did when he grabbed her that’s how fucked up it was,” the student tweeted, according to the Mail.
Another contingent of students has come out strongly in support of Fields, the cop, and, presumably, Long as well.
About 100 Spring Valley High students at staged a brief walkout on Friday in support of the school resource officer and football coach after the video emerged. (RELATED: Students Stage Walkout In Support Of Deputy Fired Over Viral Video)
The students donned T-shirts reading “Free Fields” and “#BringBackFields” in support of the officer, Ben Fields.
Fields was fired Wednesday after he had been briefly suspended.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the girl suffered rug burns from the incident and nothing more.
An attorney retained by the girl’s family alleges that she suffered a broken arm.
Fields has also retained an attorney.
“We believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident,” Field’s lawyer said in a statement obtained by WYFF-TV.