Niya Kenny: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Niya Kenny, Niya Kenny South Carolina, Niya Kenny Spring Valley High School, Spring valley high school student

Niya Kenny was arrested after she spoke out against the deputy who violently took down her classmate at Spring Valley High School. (Screengrab via WLTX-TV)

An 18-year-old student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina says she was arrested after standing up for her classmate, who was violently slammed down while sitting at her desk Monday in an incident that has gone viral.

Niya Kenny told WLTX-TV she was also taken into custody by Richland County Deputy Ben Fields, the school resource officer, along with the unnamed student who was thrown to the ground and dragged across the floor of their classroom.

“I was crying, screaming and crying like a baby,” Kenny told the news station. “I was in disbelief.”

The sheriff’s department and the FBI are investigating the incident. Fields has been placed on administrative duty.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Kenny Says ‘I Couldn’t Believe This Was Happening’

Niya Kenny told WLTX-TV the other girl was asked by their teacher to get off her cell phone, but refused. She also would not leave the classroom with an administrator who the teacher called, so Deputy Ben Fields was brought in. Multiple videos recorded by students show Fields grab the girl by the back of her neck and flip over the desk, with the girl still in it. He then drags her and the desk to the front of the classroom and handcuffs her.

“I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kenny told the news station. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like ‘no way, no way.’ You can’t do nothing like that to a little girl. I’m talking about she’s like 5’6″.”

Tony Robinson Jr., another student who recorded the incident, told WLTX-TV, “She really hadn’t done anything wrong. She said that she had took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second.”

Robinson said, “I’ve never seen anything so nasty looking, so sick to the point that you know, other students are turning away, don’t know what to do, and are just scared for their lives. That’s supposed to be somebody that’s going to protect us. Not somebody that we need to be scare off, or afraid.”

2. She Says Deputy Fields Told Her ‘Since You Have So Much to Say You Are Coming Too’

Kenny says she was arrested after standing up for her classmate.

“I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” says Kenny. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”

3. She Was Charged With Disturbing School, a Misdemeanor

Kenny was charged with disturbing school, which is a misdemeanor crime in South Carolina. She was released from custody after posting $1,000 bail.

The law says it is unlawful to “interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college in this State,” or to “loiter about such school or college premises,” or “to act in an obnoxious manner thereon,” or “to enter upon any school or college premises or loiter around the premises, except on business, without the permission of the principal or president in charge.”

If found guilty, the charge carries a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail sentence of no more than 90 days.

4. Kenny’s Mother Says Her Daughter Was ‘Brave’ to Come to Her Classmate’s Defense

Niya Kenny, Niya Kenny South Carolina, Niya Kenny Spring Valley High School, Spring valley high school student

Niya Kenny, left, with her mother, Doris Kenny. (Screengrab via WLTX-TV)

Kenny’s mother also spoke to WLTX-TV, saying she is not angry with her daughter.

“I’m not mad at her, she was brave enough to speak out against what was going on and didn’t back down and it resulted in her being arrested,” Doris Kenny told the news station. “..Looking at the video, who was really disturbing schools? Was it my daughter or the officer who came in to the classroom and did that to the young girl?”

5. Students Say Deputy Fields Has a History of Abusive Behavior

ben fields

Fields received the “Culture of Excellence Award” earlier this year. (Richland County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputy Ben Fields is the senior Richland County deputy sheriff assigned to Spring Valley High School as a school resource officer, according to the sheriff office’s website.

Current and former students say he has a history of abusive behavior:

One student says she saw Fields “slam” a pregnant student in 2012:

Fields, 34, has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004. He was sued in 2007 for excessive force, but a federal jury ruled in his favor. A pending federal civil rights lawsuit accusing him of falsely accusing a black Spring Valley High School student of being in a gang, leading to his expulsion, is set for trial in January. Read more about Fields at the link below:


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Reading the text of the “disturbing schools” law, I can only conclude that it was Fields who was breaking that law. He is the one who should be charged with “disturbing schools”.
In fact, Niya was the only one who was actually attempting to stop the disturbance that Fields initiated.


How the hell is disturbing school an actual crime in South Carolina, with criminal charges and possible jail time? In the UK a student might be expelled or suspended for misbehaviour by the school… but arrested? This is insanity. You all need to take a look at the police state you are enforcing, don’t tell me you are the land of the free. Police can beat on teenage girls in a classroom for playing on their mobile phone and some people think that is OK. Despicable


You are absolutely correct! This is absurd and it keeps happening and we keep blaming our children when we need to blame those who are put in positions of authority who abuse that authority. You are to protect the kids not terrorizes them. We had an on campus officer when I was in school 12+ years ago and the only time he was called into a situation was if a fight broke out and it wouldn’t break up. He never slammed, chokehold, or exerted excessive force upon the kids. We all trusted him and he was respected by the students. To this day when I see him at our homecoming games I hug him. America has completely shifted focus on discipline and its sickening.

Becca O

They should have called this student’s mom and told the mom to come get her. Hopefully the mom is like the Baltimore mom who dragged her son away from the riots. We need more parents to back up teachers. This student was disrespectful and had no fear of disobeying the teacher, the principal or the Resource officer. How is she going to ever be gainfully employed and listen to directions from a boss??? Another ghetto mom in the making–sorry it’s true.


Her mother had just died. The child was parentless and had just been moved into a foster home. She had only been in the class for a matter of a few weeks.
Where is the duty of care to a poor child who has just become an orphan? So much effort is placed by police on how their actions are ‘lawful’, but almost nothing on how their actions are ethical.

This girl was in pain – there needed to be some sort of additional care employed with her, not treat her like a criminal for looking at her phone.

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