During a heated debate on last night (Oct. 26) episode of CNN Tonight host Don Lemon and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin were at odds over the incident at Columbia, S.C.’s Spring Valley High School. After a young girl refused to leave a classroom for failing to participate, Richland County Sheriff Deputy Ben Fields grabbed the student’s neck, threw her to the ground while still inside of the chair, and dragged her out of the chair on the floor. Lemon suggested that people need to “know more before passing judgement,” and Hostin vehemently disagreed.
“We don’t know what happened. You weren’t sitting in the room, Sunny. You don’t know if she wasn’t standing up. You do need to know more, and as a prosecutor, you should want to know more,” Lemon said.
Hostin, who is an attorney, journalist and commentator, replied with a strict view of the situation based upon the law. Noting that what should be assessed is whether or not that level of force was necessary, Hostin concluded that it was not, based upon the student remaining seated while Officer Fields assaulted her. Lemon attempted to interject, but Hostin continued with her stance, stating that Officer Fields’ actions were not effective with regards to discipline.
“The law provides that the standard here is 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,” she said. ‘The bottom line is, Don, this is a young girl. This is a girl in school. There is no justification for using that kind [of force]. Whether or not that force is justifiable is the issue, and the force is not justifiable. She is sitting there, she is not resisting, she is sitting there in a chair. That is unreasonable force, that is excessive force, and it’s assault.”
Office Ben Fields has been placed on administrative leave while the school district and sheriff’s office conduct an investigation of the events. A federal investigation by the has also been requested by Richland County Sheriff, Leon Lott. Watch Don Lemon and Sunny Hostin tackle the issue in the video below: