Army veteran recounts violent encounter with Deputy Ben Fields

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When 36-year-old Carlos Martin saw the now viral video of a high school police officer manhandling a student in a South Carolina classroom, he recognized the deputy immediately.

“I recognized him on the spot. I remembered how big he was,” Martin said exclusively to NY Daily News.

Martin had his own run-in with Deputy Ben Fields in 2005, when he and his wife encountered the officer in a parking lot after a noise complaint.

At the time, Martin had only recently moved to South Carolina, after having been overseas with the Army in Germany. He had been playing his music loudly in his car when he pulled into his apartment’s parking lot, and the officer was parked, having already arrived in response to the noise complaint. However, Fields “snapped” after Martin called him “dude,” and a rough altercation and arrest followed.

Fields threw Martin to the ground and pepper sprayed him, but because Martin’s military training helped him to resist the chemical, Martin was not so easily subdued.

“He became even more violent because I didn’t react like most people would,” Martin recalled.

Tashiana Rogers, his wife at the time, ran outside with her cell phone to take pictures of the encounter as it happened. Martin said that’s when Fields called for his partner to “get her black ass,” and the phone was taken from Rogers. The pictures were deleted.

“I’m watching my wife get beat up in front of me, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Martin told the Daily News.

During the arrest, Martin said he’d file a lawsuit and Fields allegedly responded with, “I’m glad Johnny Cochran is dead.”

Martin said that he still bears the emotional scars from the encounter, saying that the entire incident led to his divorce as well as his discharge from the Army. He said that although criminal charges against him and his wife were dropped, it took four years, and in that time, the Army considered him a criminal.

Although Martin and Rogers both sued Fields, Martin’s lawsuit was dropped because of the difficulty in proving excessive force, while the jury in Rogers’ case ruled favor of Fields.

“I felt like if he had felt the consequences from 2005, this wouldn’t happen today,” Rogers said.