(Reuters) - A video of a white male police officer at a South Carolina high school flipping and slamming a black girl to the ground in a classroom arrest sparked outrage on social media on Monday.
The incident comes amid heightened scrutiny of the use of force by police, particularly against minorities, after numerous high-profile killings of unarmed black men by police across the United States in the last two years triggered protests.
The 15-second video was apparently recorded by another pupil at the Spring Valley High School in Columbia on Monday. It begins with Ben Fields of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, an officer assigned to the school, approaching the girl, who is seated at a desk.
Fields can then be seen yanking the girl's arm and wrapping his arm under her chin before flipping the desk with her still seated in it. Fields then drags her from the chair and tosses her on the floor, as the classroom full of students looks on in silence, before handcuffing her.
The girl does not appear to resist or argue with the officer during the short video, which was published by local media outlets and on social media.
In a second, longer video recorded in the classroom, Fields can be heard telling another student who was expressing dismay over the situation, "Hey, I'll put you in jail next."
The school and school district could not be immediately reached for comment, but Richland School District Two told local broadcaster WLTX in a statement the incident was being investigated.
"Student safety is and always will be the district's top priority. The district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students," the statement said.
Sheriff's Department spokesman Curtis Wilson told reporters Sheriff Leon Lott was "totally disturbed" by the video but cautioned the public to reserve judgment until an investigation was completed.
Wilson said Fields was placed on administrative duties. The girl was arrested for "disturbing school" and later released to her family, Wilson said.
The clips sparked fury online, with the hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh trending nationwide on Twitter by Monday evening.
A 2015 report from the African American Policy Forum found black girls, like black boys, faced harsher discipline than their white counterparts in a review of New York and Boston school discipline data.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)