Summerville Police release arrest footage of 13-year-old outside of Walmart who was selling roses

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The Summerville Police Department (SPD) released the body camera footage of a 13-year-old boy's arrest at a Walmart on Monday.
Police say the situation started after officers noticed a juvenile selling roses at the entrance of the Walmart. They say the juvenile began to swear at the officers, refusing to identify himself or cooperate with them. The juvenile then punched a female officer in the face with a closed fist.

The officers apprehended the juvenile and charged him with assaulting an officer.

Video footage of the juvenile's arrest, which shows officers pinning the minor to the ground by pushing down on his neck, has generated controversy.

"I was full of anger, full of rage," community activist Elvin Speights said. "It was excessive force. You can tell he was a kid, might be 120 pounds. Small kid. And this grown man is applying pressure on the back of his neck."

Attorney Marvin Pendarvis, representing the juvenile's family, said, "The minor is a bright and motivated young person who was simply trying to pursue a passion and learn valuable business skills. It is unacceptable that he was targeted and arrested for his entrepreneurial efforts."

The Summerville Police Department released a statement on the arrest.

"The Summerville Police Department is committed to maintaining public safety while upholding the highest standard of professionalism and respect for all individuals," Police Chief Douglas Wright said in the statement. "We will continue to conduct a thorough review of this incident to ensure our officers followed proper protocols and identified any areas for improvement."

"We recognize the impact such incidents can have on community trust, and we remain dedicated to fostering open communication and strengthening our relationship with the citizens we serve", he continued in the statement.

Following the release of the body camera footage, the attorney for the family involved in the case released a statement stating the police department released a "heavily redacted and edited video" of the situation.

"The facts are straightforward: Officer Ghi acted as the initial aggressor in this situation. Contrary to claims, there is no clear evidence showing the minor punching Officer Kirkland in the face. Instead, what the video reveals is an officer approaching a 13-year-minor with immediate aggression, threats of incarceration, and unnecessary interrogation regarding the minor’s activity of selling roses," the statement reads.

"The escalation of the incident can be directly attributed to Officer Ghi’s aggressive approach. Law Enforcement officers are expected the exercise restraint, especially when dealing with minor’s engaging in non-threatening activities. If an officer lacks the temperament to handle such situations without resorting to aggression, they should reconsider their suitability for patrolling areas where minors are likely to be.

"Notably absent from the released video is the moment when Officer Ghi physically grabs the minor’s neck, slamming his head into the ground, despite the minor being already restrained in handcuffs and no longer posing a threat. This blatant display of excessive force has left the minor physically and emotionally scarred.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment to pursuing this matter fully. We demand a comprehensive investigation into the conduct of Office Ghi and all other involved officers. Additionally, we call on the Summerville Police Department to release the full, unedited video while still protecting the minor’s identity."

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