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Teen illegally selling palmetto roses fights with officer, arrested, Charleston Police say

Teen illegally selling palmetto roses arrested after tussle with officer, police say (Elvin Speights) 3.png
A bystander's photo shows a man helping a Charleston Police officer detain a teen who fought with the officer, winding up on the ground. The teen reportedly was illegally selling palmetto roses, police say (Elvin Speights)

Charleston Police say they've charged a teen with resisting arrest over a scuffle with an officer in the City Market Monday afternoon, when the officer reportedly caught the juvenile illegally selling palmetto roses.

Police say the officer was on patrol around 1: 15 p.m. Monday when he saw two teenage boys illegally selling the popular souvenirs in the Market.

When the officer approached one of the teens to explain what they were doing was illegal, the teen tried to run away, so the officer tried to detain him, according to Charleston Police.

The teen fought with the officer, and both fell to the ground, with the teen landing on top of the officer, according to police.

Several people on the street stepped in and pulled the teen off of the officer, according to police. EMS was called to check out both after they suffered scrapes during the tussle.

Afterward, the teen was put in handcuffs and taken to juvenile detention. The teen is charged With illegally selling "palmetto roses," a violation of City Code 17-109, as well as resisting arrest, police say.

"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," Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said in a news release Tuesday.

"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 added. "He didn't chase these kids nor did he use excessive force in making the arrest."

Charleston Police have received several recent complaints about vandalism, assaults and disorderly behavior by kids illegally selling palmetto roses, Reynolds says.

Before Monday's arrest, the officer had reportedly seen the boys for several weeks illegally selling the palmetto roses, but the boys would run away each time the officer tried to approach them, police say.

"Consistent with CPD practice, the officer never intended to arrest the teen for violating city Code 17-109," Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis said in a news release. "He was going to take the teen home, release him into the custody of his parent or guardian with a court date for Family Court."

It is illegal for children to sell "palmetto roses" in the City of Charleston unless they are participating in the city's Palmetto Artisan Program, according to police.

The Palmetto Artisan Program, an educational program to teach youth ages 9-16 business and entrepreneurial skills, according to the City of Charleston's website.

It's free to enroll in the program through the Charleston Recreation Department, and there are currently several spaces open in the program, police say.

"There's a reason why this ordinance is in place. We go to great lengths to treat all parties we interact with with dignity and respect," Reynolds said. "Kids illegally selling palmetto roses is a problem that will take a collaborative effort from the city of Charleston and our community partners to solve."

The officer's department issued body camera reportedly was knocked off his uniform and onto the ground during the struggle with the teen, police say.

Charleston Police ask anyone who has additional information or video of this incident to call 843-743-7200, and ask to speak with the on-duty Charleston Police detective.