COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Attorneys for Deputy Ben Fields at the time of publication have released a short statement of apology on behalf of Fields. The white deputy made national headlines after video of his handling of a recalcitrant student went viral. In the video, Fields is seen violently throwing a young, black female student to the ground after she allegedly refused to leave the classroom, and she was later arrested for “disturbing a school.” Fields is seen in the video in the middle of a classroom at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina viciously throwing the student’s desk backward, then dragging her to the floor.
Civil rights experts have already said Fields’ actions grossly violated the student’s constitutional protections, and many are calling for his immediate dismissal. Perhaps feeling the public pressure already, the statement released by Fields clearly uses the words “I am sorry” and is a bit of a departure from how many police misconduct investigations go because usually the officer in question avoids contact with the media.
“I would to formally apologize for my behavior in the classroom this week,” Fields says in his letter, “because that is not how police should handle situations with unarmed black teenagers, and I know it.” Deputy Fields goes on to say in the letter that he “should have just done what cops are supposed to do in that situation” and that “not just shooting” the unarmed, black, teen-aged student was “a mistake in judgment.”
In the letter, Fields says “recent incidents like those in Ferguson, and New York, and Ohio where we saw unarmed black people shot by cops” should have been what he called his “guidepost.” But, says the letter, he got “all confused and forgot that deadly force is literally the only option” cops have when “confronted with unarmed black teenagers.” The letter makes sure to apologize to the people of Columbia, the American people, but also Fields’ fellow officers throughout the country for not following what is “clearly been decided is the natural protocol for incidents involving white cops and black people of any age.”
“I must have missed the memo that went out a few years ago about it,” Fields says in the letter, “but obviously cops are allowed to use whatever level of force we want and can just spin a justification out later, so I absolutely failed here. I forgot that I could have just said I felt threatened by the student and shot her. I could have said she looked like a demon like D-dog Wilson said about Mike Brown, and I would have been just fine.”
Deputy Fields says in the letter that he “gets now” why all those white officers have been shooting unarmed black people. “In this country, when a cop discharges his gun,” Fields’ letter states, “we are pre-conditioned to just accept the explanation given to us by the cops instead of asking for a full investigation to figure out if the level of force used was truly justified and constitutional.”
“It just saves so much more time to shoot them,” Fields said in the letter, though he admits that “had the solution to a stubborn and resistant student been to simply tell them to go into the hallway” maybe he never would have had to get called in the first place. “I have to admit,” the letter says, “that in my day an unruly student would have just been asked to leave by the teacher, and if they didn’t go, it would be dealt with after class, or the teacher would just take the rest of the students out.”
“But apparently,” Deputy Fields said, “we just prefer to have a police state in literally every facet of our lives, including our schools.” Fields in the letter says that under advisement of his legal counsel, he will not be making any more statements until the requisite investigation into his actions is complete and he is put back on the force “as per the way things go now.”