Public Cutcry over 13-Year-Old’s Arrest for Selling Flowers Near Walmart

A 13-year-old child was forcibly arrested at a Walmart in South Carolina, resulting in community outrage at the officers involved. Bodycam footage shows two Summerville Police officers confronting a young child selling palmetto flowers in front of a Walmart on April 1.

The Atlanta Black Star reported that officers Dante Ghi and Katherine Kirkland from the hospitality division responded to complaints about two people selling roses at Walmart.

The police confronted the youths after they refused to comply with their instruction to depart over the PA system in their patrol car upon arrival. The police decided to detain one of the youths after multiple attempts to get him to identify himself failed and he became “uncooperative” and “confrontational” with them, the cops said.

According to a police report, the youngster “resisted” detainment by pushing Ghi into a wall. When Kirkland attempted to handcuff him, he “struck” her in the face with a “closed fist.”

However, in the bodycam footage released by police, officers approach the teen and ask for his identification and whether he has a business license. Someone said, “I was going to try to be nice, but you got your I.D. on you, man?”

When the young man inquires, “Why?” One cop says, “You’re getting ready to go to jail, which is why.”

The child acknowledged to selling roses and began yelling at the officers, but he never displayed any aggressive or threatening conduct against them.

After an encounter in which both police officers sought to subdue the young man, Officer Ghi grabbed his arm. Although viewers were unable to witness the child punch Kirkland, the police released a photo taken later that showed a bruising beneath her right eye.

Ghi knocks the youngster to the ground, and Kirkland threatens to use her taser on him.

Cellphone film has gone viral, with many netizens denouncing the conduct. It shows Ghi forcefully pushing the boy’s head between his thighs while Kirkland ties him from behind.

According to Summerville Police Lieutenant Shaun Tumbleston, Ghi used the “grappling motion” to restrain the child from rising up and to avoid the chance of the suspect attempting to flee or assault another officer.

The boy, whose identity remains unknown due to his age, was charged with assaulting an officer and then released to his parents. The second teenager who was with him was also charged with trespassing.

According to the Post-Courier, previous incident reports revealed numerous businesses that had received complaints about children stealing palmetto flowers. A number of the peddlers who were regulars in the retail area near to the Walmart where the boy was apprehended received trespass warnings for uncertain amounts of time. Walmart has already issued an active trespass notice to the adolescent accused of trespass.

However, the boy’s family representative, State Rep. Martin Pendarvis, stated that his client had never received a notification and had never engaged in theft. During his spring vacation, the boy attempted to make a “honest buck” by selling rose-shaped flowers made from palmetto palm fronds.

The lawyer stated, “This was an overreaction.” This was an escalation. There was no attempt to deescalate the situation from the moment they approached him. It is not commonplace for Girl Scouts, religious groups, or little ball teams to congregate in front of stores and sell cookies, lemonade, or anything they can to make an honest buck and collect funds for specific causes. Would the consequences have been the same if Girl Scouts had been stationed there?

Following the incident, community people protested Officer Ghi’s physical aggressiveness. Some questioned why he was still on duty after being fired from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in 2002 for pushing a man’s head against the hood of his vehicle.

According to Live 5, Ghi resigned from the North Charleston Police Department in 2018 before the internal inquiry into a policy breach was concluded. The violations were upheld. That same year, he detained two teens at a mall for violating mall policies by staying after 6 p.m. without an adult chaperone. Ghi arrested the teens when their chaperone was shopping in another store.

He started working for Summerville Police about two weeks after leaving North Charleston.



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