Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott had said in a press conference on Tuesday evening that the footage made him feel like he was going to “throw up,” and he called Deputy Ben Fields’ actions “unacceptable.” He has asserted that the girl posed no danger to anyone.
"What he should not have done is throw the student," Lott said in a statement on Wednesday. "Police officers make mistakes too. They're human and they need to be held accountable, and that's what we've done with Deputy Ben Fields."
The sheriff noted that he appreciates the students who filmed the encounter, and encouraged the community to police the police using their cameras.
"I can't fix problems if I don't know about it," Lott said. "I would say that every citizen with a camera, if they see something that's going on that disturbs them, they should film it. Our citizens should police us."
Civil rights groups are praising the department’s handling of the situation. Deputy Fields was suspended without pay immediately following the episode, before he was fired altogether.
The sheriff also expressed his gratitude that the FBI has agreed to step in and conduct a civil rights investigation. He also stated that he appreciates the district for promising to review how they use police officers in schools, admitting that perhaps the deputy should have never been called over this matter.
"They need to understand that when they call us, we're going to take a law enforcement action," Lott stated. "Maybe that ought to have been something handled by the school without ever calling the deputy."
Lott still faces anger from many in the community, as he still intends to pursue charges against both the student and another girl who stepped up to defend her classmate. Both of the teens are charged with disturbing the school.
Many argue it was the officer who in fact disturbed the school, when he violently assaulted a young girl.
"The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and not allowing the students to learn. She was very disrespectful and she started this whole incident," Lott said. "It doesn't justify his actions. But she also needs to be held responsible for what she did."
The officer was not technically fired over the assault, but was terminated on what some have called a technicality. It wasn’t because he was violent, but rather because he let go of her during the take-down.
"When you make an arrest of someone who does not have a weapon, you never let go of the subject. When he threw her across the room, he let go of her. That's what violates our policy," Lott said.
"She wasn't a danger at that point; she was just being non-compliant and disrespectful. You try to deescalate a situation. And when you do have to put your hands on someone, there are other techniques we use."
The student, whose name has yet to be released, has obtained South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford to represent her.
Rutherford told Good Morning America on Wednesday that she has a cast on her arm, neck and back injuries, as well as rug burn on her forehead.