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The South Carolina deputy who addressed reporters Tuesday afternoon regarding the Spring Valley High incident doesn’t believe school resource officer Ben Fields is racist because of his romantic relationship with a Black woman.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott discussed Fields’ taped encounter with a Black teenage student, which was viewed as aggressive and unwarranted. Fields was called into the classroom when the unidentified teen refused to put her phone away. He then threw the girl from her desk and dragged her across the room. Lott says the police investigation will focus solely on the question of force, and when asked if race was a factor, he pointed to Fields’ dating life.

The Huffington Post reports:

“He’s been dating an African-American female for quite some time now,” Lott said of the deputy. “So does that have a bearing on his thought process? It may have. But I would think that would have it on a positive way, not on a negative way. So I don’t know. There’s been no indication of that. He’s never expressed that in the past. We’ve never seen that. It really doesn’t matter to me if that child is purple, it’s what his actions are and that’s what we’re concerned about.”

Critics weren’t concerned about Fields’ romantic entanglements, however.

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Fields has previously faced two lawsuits regarding alleged misconduct with Black citizens. Meanwhile, The Huffington Post points out that relationships between people of different races doesn’t exclude them from displaying racism.

A “2011 study specifically looking at the impact of interracial friendship on white concern about local crime found that when white people have close relationships with black people, their concerns about crime actually increase,”Cornell University professor Noliwe Rooks wrote.

A civil rights investigation has been launched in the wake of the incident. The topic of race was initially avoided during an earlier press conference on Tuesday with South Carolina’s NAACP president Lonnie Randolph. Randolph told reporters the state is still reeling from the effects of racism, but declined to pinpoint this event as another example of discrimination based on skin color.

Fields has been placed on administrative leave without pay.

SOURCE: Huffington Post | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform 

SEE ALSO: 

#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh: Deputy Ben Fields Sued Twice In Federal Court

 NAACP Addresses Spring Valley High Video, Student Who Recorded Video Details Incident

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