Media figures defended a school resource officer who was seen on video violently “slamm[ing] to the ground” a student in South Carolina, and blamed the student for not showing the officer and her teachers respect.
Officer “Slammed” A Student To The Ground, Prompting Investigations By State And Federal Agencies
South Carolina Student “Slammed To The Ground” By A School Resource Officer. A South Carolina “student's violent arrest was captured in videos that went viral and sparked widespread outrage,” after she was “slammed to the ground” by a school resource officer, who was later fired. According to CNN:
A student slammed to the ground by a South Carolina school resource officer “bears some responsibility,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday.
The student's violent arrest was captured in videos that went viral and sparked widespread outrage.
The videos show the officer standing over a student, seated at her desk. He puts his arm near her neck, then yanks her backward. The desk tips over and the student crashes onto the floor.
The uniformed officer doesn't let go, sharply tugging the student toward the front of the classroom. She flies out of her desk and slides several feet across the floor.
One of the videos from inside the math classroom at Spring Valley High School shows the student resisting, according to [Richland County Sheriff Leon] Lott.
Still, he stressed, his focus is on the behavior of the officer, Deputy Ben Fields[.]
Justice Department, Columbia FBI Field Office, Civil Rights Division, And U.S. Attorney's Office For District Of South Carolina Announce Investigation. According to Time, the Justice Department announced October 27 it will launch an investigation into the incident, along with the “The Columbia FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina,” to “determine whether a federal law was violated”:
In a statement reported by the Associated Press, the Department of Justice announced “The Columbia FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a student at Spring Valley High School. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence in order to determine whether a federal law was violated.” [Time, 10/27/15]
Media Figures Defend Officer, Blame Student For Incident
CNN's Don Lemon: “I'd Like To Know More” About “What Precipitated” The Altercation In The Video Before Passing Judgement, It Only Shows “Small Slice In Time.” On the October 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Don Lemon said while the video “does look horrible,” it only shows “a small slice in time of what happened” and asserted “I'd like to know more before passing judgement” because “you don't know what precipitated” the altercation:
DON LEMON: I agree with everyone, including the commissioner, and including Tom, it does look horrible, it does look like there's no excuse for what he's doing to her, but again, we don't know. As the commissioner said, this only shows a small slice in time of what happened. I'd like to know more before passing judgement.
SUNNY HOSTIN: Are you guys kidding me? I don't need to --
LEMON: No, we're not kidding. We don't know what happened.
HOSTIN: I don't need to know.
LEMON: You weren't sitting in the room, Sunny. You don't know if she wasn't standing up.
HOSTIN: I don't need to know more. Let me tell you this.
LEMON: You do need to know more, as a prosecutor, you should want to know more.
HOSTIN: The law provides, Don, that the standard here whether or not the officer has to use this type of force, whether it's reasonable and necessary to somehow secure discipline in the school.
LEMON: But how do you know without all the information as a trained professional?
LEMON: You don't know what precipitated it. [CNN, The Situation Room, 10/26/15]
CNN Analyst: Student “Had No Respect” For Officer And Teacher. On the October 27 edition of CNN's New Day, CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck criticized the student for the incident, saying "[t]his is a failure to comply again," she “had no respect for the school, no respect for her teacher, probably has no respect at home or on the street”:
HARRY HOUCK: Here's the problem. This is a failure to comply again. Like in all these cases here, people don't listen to the police when they're giving them a command. You must comply. And then Marc's -- Marc's giving people the impression that you don't have to comply to police officers. And that's why we're having a lot of incidents. You're giving that impression, Marc, every time I speak to you. You always have a problem, you know, talking about an officer's use of force. And I'm telling you, it's as a result of a failure to comply. If that girl got out of the car -- got out of the seat when she was told, there'd be no problem. But apparently she had no respect for the school, no respect for her teacher, probably has no respect at home or on the street, and that's why she acted the way she did. [CNN, New Day, 10/27/15]
Glenn Beck Suggested The Student Is To Blame: My Parents Would Have Said The Cop Was Called “Because Of You.” On the October 27 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck suggested the student was to blame for the altercation, and defended the officer saying, he was put in “an absolutely no-win situation,” and that blaming him “is an absolute ticket to anarchy”:
GLENN BECK: [I]n my day, as an old man now, if I would have come home and there was a video of me sitting in that chair, my parents would have said to me, “What the hell were you even saying that brought that cop -- why did somebody have to call a police officer in the first place on you?” And my parents wouldn't have listened to my plea. They would have watched this and said, “first of all, they were called into the classroom because of you. Second of all, he said to you, 'get up, come with me.' You obey the police officer, period, no ifs, ands, or buts.” The police officer is being put in an absolutely no-win situation and we're sitting around speculating on what he did. What about the teacher? What about the school? What about all the other teachers in all the other schools that now this is being seen on television and they know “all I have to do -- I can punch a police officer, I can resist arrest, and the cop's going to get in trouble.” This is an absolute ticket to anarchy, which is exactly what many in our country would like. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 10/27/15]
Fox's Mark Fuhrman Defended The Officer: “He Used A Minimal Amount Of Force Necessary To Effect An Arrest.” On the October 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox contributor Mark Fuhrman defended the officer's actions, saying his actions were “not excessive,” and arguing “he used a minimal amount of force necessary to effect an arrest”:
MARK FUHRMAN: I'll tell you why it's not excessive. He verbalized, he made contact, he verbalized, he was polite. He requested her. He verbally did that. The next level is he put a hand on her. She escalated it from there. He used soft control. He threw her on the ground, he handcuffed her. He didn't use mace. He didn't use a Taser. He didn't use a stick. He didn't kick her. He didn't hit her. He didn't choke her. He used a minimal amount of force necessary to effect an arrest. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/27/15]
Fox's Kilmeade: Incident Would Not Have Happened If Student Had "[Had] Some Respect For [Her] Teachers." On the October 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade blamed the student for the incident, saying “fundamentally, if you have some respect for your teachers, this doesn't happen”:
STEVE DOOCY: Keep in mind, the way this started was a teacher asked this young woman give up your phone. And she wouldn't. Give it up. Give it up. They called in an administrator. Give up the phone. Wouldn't do it. Brought in the cop. Wouldn't do it. And then that happened.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: And then physical altercation. They said she was punching him. So obviously there's a lot more to this story and it just depends on what part of the video you see. You have to see the before or the after.
BRIAN KILMEADE: Fundamentally, if you have some respect for your teachers, this doesn't happen. But we'll let them investigate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/28/15]
National Review's David French: Officer Had “Few Options Beyond Physical Force.” In an October 27 article titled, “The Spring Valley Arrest Video Isn't Disturbing: Here's Why,” National Review staff writer David French claimed that the officer had “few options beyond physical force” and further defended the officer arguing his actions were “decisive, brief, and did not physically harm the student.” The student, wrote French, “had no right to stay. She had no right to end classroom instruction with her defiance,” and “Fields was right to move her, and he did so without hurting her.” French concluded, “move along. There's truly not much to see here”:
After watching and re-watching the incident, I keep coming to the same conclusion: This is what happens when a person resists a lawful order from a police officer to move (UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that a third video shows the student hitting the officer in the face when he initially put his hands on her). Unless the school is willing to have one student commandeer the classroom indefinitely, the officer has few options beyond physical force -- and the use of physical force is rarely pretty to see. In this instance, the use of force was decisive, brief, and did not physically harm the student.
The arrested student at Spring Valley High School should have left her seat when her teacher demanded that she leave. She should have left when the administrator made the same demand. She should have left when Fields made his first, polite requests. She had no right to stay. She had no right to end classroom instruction with her defiance. Fields was right to move her, and he did so without hurting her. The fact that the incident didn't look good on camera doesn't make his actions wrong. Unless additional evidence emerges, the Spring Valley video is going viral for all the wrong reasons.
In other words - to use a police cliché - move along. There's truly not much to see here. [National Review, 10/27/15]
UPDATE: Fox's Todd Starnes: Teenagers Going “On A Rampage ... May Be The Price To Pay For Raising A Nation Of Savages.” On October 30, Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes blamed “Moms and dads ... not disciplining their offspring” physically for “a generation of kids who do not respect authority, drifting without a moral compass” like the “infamous South Carolina cell phone girl.” Starnes rejected the “mainstream media [suggestion] this issue is about race,” instead claiming this “may be the price to pay for raising a nation of savages”:
TODD STARNES: Teenagers gone wild. We've all seen the videos -- a teacher body slammed in New Jersey, police attacked in Pennsylvania, and of course we all know about that infamous South Carolina cell phone girl. You know, when I was a boy, I attended Hope Sullivan Elementary School in Southaven, Mississippi. There were no police officers patrolling the hallways, just a principal armed with a fiberglass paddle. Had a kid at my school pulled a stunt like that, the principal would have yanked her out of her desk and introduced her to what we fearfully called “the board of education.” And I guarantee that kid would have gotten it twice as worse once she got home. But that's the problem. Moms and dads are not disciplining their offspring. They're not parenting. The mainstream media says this issue is about race, black and white. No, sir. It's about right and wrong. We're dealing with a generation of kids who do not respect authority, drifting without a moral compass. And we seem shocked when teenagers go on a rampage? Folks, I'm afraid it may be the price to pay for raising a nation of savages. [FoxNews.com, 10/30/15]
This post has been updated to include additional content.