Skip to main content

Ex-Deputy Who Manhandled Student Won’t Face Civil Rights Charges


Former sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields garnered widespread condemnation after he manhandled a black high school student on video. Now it seems that he won’t ever face charges connected to the incident.. The Department of Justice announced on Friday that they won’t pursue a civil rights case again him.

“After a careful and thorough investigation, the team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Fields willfully deprived the Spring Valley High School student of a constitutional right,” they said in a statement. “This decision is limited strictly to an application of the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statute; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the incident involving Fields and the Spring Valley High School student.”

That “high legal standard” was to prove that Fields “acted with the deliberate and specific intent” to break the law.

“Mistake, misperception, negligence or poor judgement are not sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation,” the release said.

We’ve written before about how a state prosecutor declined to press charges against Fields, citing lack of evidence. Video from the incident shows the Oct. 25, 2015 incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. Fields’ boss at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Leon Lott, quickly fired, and voiced outrage, but the prosecutor says this actually undermined the probe.

“These administrative actions, taken prior to the completion of the investigation, have been injurious to the prosecution of the case,” Solicitor Dan Johnson said in a September report obtained by the New York Daily News.

[Screengrab via YouTube]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: