Greer Police defend man’s arrest shown in YouTube video

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GREER, SC (WSPA) – A video post on the Youtube account Trey Citizen shows a man taking video on his phone’s camera at the Municipal Court and police department in Greer.

The video shows police officers approaching the man, later identified as Diante Valentine, and asking him to identify himself after he was reported as a suspicious person.

Valentine refuses to identify himself in the video, because he said he was doing nothing wrong.

He was arrested and charged with interfering with police, according to the city.

There are 24 states with “stop and identify” laws that allow police to ask for a person’s ID whom they have reasonable suspicion of wrong doing.

South Carolina is not one of those states.

Law enforcement can question you, but you are not required to answer.

The YouTube channel has 2 other videos called “1st Amendment Audits.”

In these videos, the man taking the video insults and flips-off officers.

The City of Greer’s attorney, John Duggan, released the following statement about the incident:

Our country and our communities and the law enforcement agencies which protect them are facing a triple threat including: (1) mass shootings; (2) terrorists threats; and, (3) targeting of law enforcement officers.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2016, just three days after the worst mass shooting in US history, the Greer Police Department was notified that an individual was videotaping the Municipal Court /Police Department building and the adjoining parking lot from both Main and Miller streets. In addition to police vehicles, police officers, police department and municipal court staff, and members of the public park their personal vehicles in this lot. At this particular time, city court was taking place and many citizens attending court had also parked in this lot. Because of security concerns, three officers responded. They repeatedly asked the individual to provide identification and an explanation why he was videotaping this area. The individual, later identified to be Diante Valentine, would not answer and continued to videotape the parking lot area. This heightened the security concerns of the officers. Because Mr. Valentine would not respond, he was taken into custody in order to determine his identity and the motives for videotaping the building and the cars in the parking lot. Subsequently, it was learned that he was doing this in a pre-planned effort to “bait” the police department in hopes that it would evoke a response which could be used to create a controversy concerning the conduct of the law enforcement officers. He had previously done this at the Greenville Sheriff’s Department. And, it was also learned that he posted the videos of these incidents on you-tube under his channel called “First Amendment Audit.” The videos of this incident are posted on the police department web-site and may be viewed by the public.

After the police identified Mr. Valentine and determined the reason why he was videotaping this area he was charged with interfering with police and released two and a half hours later.

It is unfortunate that, in this time of heightened security concerns for all of us and for law enforcement agencies in particular, Mr. Valentine chose to do this. It is also regrettable that he chose not to provide his name or address or reveal the reason for his behavior. He could have chosen to provide his name and address and the reason for his actions when questioned by the officers. He also could have notified the department before he started videotaping the area and the reason therefor. Had he chosen to do either, this incident could have been avoided.

The Greer Police Department is constantly training to prepare for all kinds of security incidents. It will use this incident to train its officers concerning ways and methods to deal with situations like this and to ensure that our community is as safe as possible.

In the event Mr. Valentine should sue, the city and the police department will vigorously defend the lawsuit. The Greer Police Department will continue to vigilantly protect the safety and security of our community.

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