CHARLESTON, S.C. — A 16-year-old arrested and sent to a juvenile jail after police said he was selling sweetgrass roses without a permit at a popular South Carolina market would have just been taken home if he hadn't fought with an officer, Charleston's police chief said.
The white officer had noted the black teen selling the art, called Palmetto Roses, for several weeks as he walked in traffic near Charleston's City Market, according to a police report.
The 16-year-old fought with the officer Monday afternoon and it took several witnesses to get the teen in custody, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said.
The teen was charged with breaking a city ordinance requiring a license to sell Palmetto Roses. Charleston created the Palmetto Artisan Program a decade ago to regulate selling the art.
Video of parts of the struggle between the officer and the teen were posted to social media sites, some praising the officer and other posts suggesting he was using excessive force.
"This isn't the outcome that we want, but from what I have learned thus far I think the officer handled this situation appropriately considering the difficult circumstances," Reynolds said in a statement.
The teen's lawyer, Marvin Pendarvis, told The Post and Courier of Charleston the teen was released from juvenile jail Tuesday and there are conflicting stories about what happened.
"We are continuing to investigate the matter," Pendarvis said. "It's my understanding that there's some conflicting testimony or statements. As we proceed further I want to make sure we do our best to represent this man."
Charleston officers are told when they find teens selling the Palmetto Roses without a permit to take them home to their parents and issue a citation to show up in Family Court. But the attack on the officer prevented that from happening, Reynolds said.
"The young man made the unfortunate decision to resist the officer and this entire situation could have been completely avoided had he cooperated with the officer," the police chief said.
Charleston officials said there are several spots available in the free Palmetto Artisan Program.