By Adam Johnson / AlterNet


Ben Fields, the South Carolina police officer whose attack on a black student went viral in a video Monday, has faced previous abuse allegations. posted a lawsuit that alleges Fields “recklessly targeted … African-American Students With Allegations of Gang Membership.” The suit, brought by Spring Valley High student Ashton James Reese, claims that Fields and a number of other officers violated his civil rights by targeting him and other students for “gang activity” where none existed. The lawsuit is currently pending and the trial is set for Jan. 27, 2016.

Another lawsuit from 2007 alleges Fields violated the civil rights of a man and woman in Columbia, SC. The man, Carlos Martin, says he and his wife were harassed by Fields in an apartment parking lot after making a “friendly gesture and greeting.” Fields allegedly became enraged when Martin referred to him as “dude,” though the lawsuit claims the term was used with “no disrespect.” In his reply to the lawsuit Fields claimed Martin was playing “loud music” and became “boisterous” when he was approached. Both charges against Martin and his wife and the subsequent lawsuit were dropped.

Several students took to Twitter claiming Fields had a history of “slamming” people for years, including a pregnant girl in 2012.

Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin said in a statement about Monday’s incident, “We cannot and will not accept this kind of behavior from any law enforcement officer and I firmly believe we need an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this incident and see that justice is done.”


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