Folks, if you think that the video going viral shows what really happened, you are sadly mistaken.
**Before I continue, I will state up front that I do have a bias. I am an ex-cop. I have been taught to look at things in a different light than the average civilian. I may no longer have the badge, but I do still have the mindset, and part of that is to not accept what I see at face value.**
I saw this on the morning news the other day. [http://www.fox5dc.com/news/national/39547354-story]
What was said there, and substantiated, the teacher apparently perceived this teen as being disruptive to the classroom. The teen was told to leave. “A teacher had complained that the student, who has not been identified, was being unruly during class and refused to leave even after an administrator was called in.” [ http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sheriff-says-third-video-shows-south-carolina-student-punching-officer-n452481] This was not a suggestion or a request. This was an order. The teen evidently chose to ignore the order. The teacher now had a choice – either allow this teen is violate a direct order, which means that the teacher is no longer in charge of the class, that teenager is, or request assistance.
Let’s stop for a moment. Who is in charge of the room, the students or the teacher? The teacher. If a student is being disruptive, then they cannon teach. But the student has a right to an education. Okay, what about the students who were trying to learn, those who were not being disruptive? Do they not have a right to an education also? Their rights have been violated. The teacher at this point needs to do what is best for the majority of the class. This is not the time to psycho analyses the disruptive teen. That student needs to be removed so the class can get back to normal, the sooner the better.
Back to the facts: The teacher requested assistance from the school resource officer – this is well established. The officer did not just walk into the class and go up to this student. He was called to the room. He told her to leave. Again, a direct order. She chose to ignore a lawful order. At this point, I believe, that she is technically Trespassing.
Trespassing: No longer rightfully allowed to stay.
The officer told her to stand up. She failed to comply.
Now, let’s stop again. Put yourself in the officer’s place. You have been summoned to a room and requested by an authority figure to escort a person from the premises. Said person refuses. What do you do? Remember, right now the teacher is unable to do their job because of this person.
A. Attempt to persuade said individual to cooperate?
B. Attempt to physically remove individual
If you picked A – what happens when aforementioned individual continues to refuse?
Do you just stop the class; try to use social pressure to force her to comply? That would be making the assumption that the other students would support authority and not her. Note that there is no indication that they were trying to pursued her one way or the other before the officer arrived.
Have the other students leave the room? That effectively ends their lesson for the day. But she has learned that she can force the teacher’s hand.
Eventually most of us will fall to choice B.
This is where the video picks up. The officer is shown attempting to force her to stand up and leave. He is doing his job. She is resisting. “Fields went after the reportedly disruptive senior when she ignored his commands to leave her seat, flipping her out of her chair and hauling her across the classroom floor.” [ http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/spring-valley-high-school-officer-tackled-teen-phone-article-1.2412665]
Stop. The student reportedly was being disruptive. It was mentioned in the morning news that I heard. Even if she wasn’t really being too disruptive, the teacher reportedly told her to leave. Again, I heard this in the initial report. She “refused to leave even after an administrator was called in.” She, the student, was in the wrong. Not the teacher, not the officer. The student. Why did she refuse to leave? The entire incident could have been prevented if she had complied with a lawful order: Leave the room. She was attempting to usurp the teacher’s authority.
From the video we see her struggling to stay in her seat and eventually being bodily lifted, chair and all, and thrown to the ground. From what I could see, she may have tried to hit or kick him, but it is not clear. I have seen reports that claim she did strike out at him. “Third Video’ Shows South Carolina Student Punching Officer” [http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sheriff-says-third-video-shows-south-carolina-student-punching-officer-n452481]
Did he over react? I don’t know, because I don’t have all the facts. Unlike many people, I am not going to judge based only on what I can see in one video that do not show the entire incident. I know all too well that what we think we see if too frequently not what really happened. Contrary to what TV, books and movies would have you believe, the eye-witness is usually the least reliable evidence; and video isn’t much better.
Put yourself in the teacher place, what would you have done? Put yourself in the officer’s place, what would you have done? Remember, the whole time, the class is being disrupted; other people’s rights are being violated, and you are not a trained psychologist.
Was the officer wrong? Maybe, maybe not.
Was the teacher wrong? I do not believe so.
Was the student wrong? Yes! For whatever reason, she was told to leave. The correct response would have been to leave. If she wanted to be a drama queen about it, slam things around, mouth off, okay, but she should have left. If she had left, then the officer would not have been called and she wouldn’t have ended up on the floor.
If I had been the teacher, I would have done pretty much the same thing. And if I had been that officer, yeah, I probably would have been pulling her out of that chair. Throw her to the ground? If she took a swing at me or tried to kick me, if I felt threatened, yeah I would. I will point out that there is no indication that the officer used any weapons.