JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Video obtained by Action News Jax shows former Arlington Middle School security guard Robert Fields grabbing two students and slamming them to the ground.
It took four months of public records requests for Action News Jax to get the video from the State Attorney’s Office.
The incident happened in a hallway at the school’s building for students in the Emotional or Behavioral Disability program.
The affidavit for Field’s arrest warrant said the two students he scuffled with were 13 and 14 years old.
Court documents said on Dec. 9, 2015, Fields was trying to take a football and basketball from the boys after they disobeyed their substitute teacher and went outside to play.
While we can’t hear what was said in the hallway, the video appears to show that the boys did not act physically aggressive towards Fields until after he had tackled them to the ground.
The video shows three takedowns.
Twice, the boy wearing a blue shirt was walking away when Fields grabbed him.
The second time Fields grabbed the boy in blue, he put the student in a chokehold from behind and dragged him to the ground.
“Wow, that’s really dangerous…to grab somebody by the neck from behind. I mean, that’s pretty serious use of force right there,” said criminal defense attorney Chris Carson. “You hate to see force like that used on kids unless it’s absolutely necessary, and really I don’t know that it looked that way in that situation.”
The other boy, wearing a red shirt, was arrested on the spot.
Two days after the scuffle, the mother of that student complained to the district, saying Fields “choked her son and banged his head against the wall.”
Action News Jax reported in June that two school resource officers, Sgt. Leslie Sams and Officer Ryan Goethe, were punished for not conducting a thorough investigation of the scuffle.
Sams and Goethe are still employed by Duval County Public Schools as school resource officers.
The school police report said the boy who was charged would not have been arrested if the officers had actually watched the surveillance video.
The charges against the boy were dropped.
Four months went by before Fields was arrested in May.
Fields was originally charged with felony child abuse, but was able to plead that down to a misdemeanor battery charge. He was sentenced to one day in jail and a year of probation.
The Filing Decision Form that Action News Jax got from the State Attorney’s Office said there was not enough evidence to prove the boys were actually injured, physically or mentally.
The form shows the mothers of both boys agreed to Fields’ downgraded charge.
“If you have someone who lacks a prior criminal record, someone who maybe has done some other good things with their lives, sometimes that mitigates a charge to a point that it’s not necessary to keep it in felony court,” said Carson.
Fields’ now works for Century Ambulance, according to his Facebook page.
Action News Jax called to get his side of the story. Fields said he wanted to speak to his attorney first, but did not return our call.
Cox Media Group