ROCK HILL –
In Family Court on Tuesday, nobody threatened a cop in a cell behind the courtroom like weeks before. Nobody flashed gang signs or claimed toughness of the street.
A pair of kids – one 14 and another who just turned 16, who just weeks ago were so tough they beat up two girls – were sentenced to probation and counseling and community service.
That includes watching adult court, where gang members leave for prisons every day for years at a time.
There were no more threats to “shoot up the block” or bragging about how much pot they would inhale, sex they would have, or claims to be in a gang called the “Folk Nation.”
The Folk Nation has an alumni association of vicious drug dealers and violent predators who recruit part of America’s vital and wonderful future – York County’s kids – into crime.
Folk Nation grads proudly serve in almost every jail in America.
No, Tuesday was just the words from each teen; “Yes, ma’am,” when Family Court Judge Georgia Anderson of Spartanburg, retired yet still working, said, plainly and firmly to one of the kids: “Go to school, behave yourself, and do your work.”
The sentencing was for two of the five teens who were arrested Jan. 30 after a pair of girls walking down a Rock Hill street were jumped and beaten by the two boys who admitted it – and allegedly by three others who remain accused but have cases pending.
Because of the ages of the children, The Herald is not publishing their names.
The cops were called that January evening on Crawford Road by a witness, a person struggling to make a living, who did not want violence on her street.
When officers found the teens in an abandoned house, they bragged how they were not afraid of jail or anything else. One of the officers who arrested them, field training officer Sam Buchanan, just last week was honored as the Rock Hill Police Department’s officer of the year.
The teenagers, who do not shave and cannot drive because they are too young, flashed gang symbols that cold night at Buchanan and another officer, called out gang sayings, and one even threatened to come back and “shoot up the block.”
The five created such a ruckus in the Rock Hill jail afterward that a squadron of officers was required to calm the place down.
Then on their way from a juvenile jail to court a week later, the boys boasted of all they would do with drugs and girls and the fellas upon release.
Another visiting judge with almost 30 years experience – promptly that early February day after the shock of what was said in his courtroom about violence and threats of violence – sent all back to jail instead of out to a party, pending trial.
One of the boys – the 14-year-old sentenced Tuesday – was in a cell that February morning after court when a police officer who had arrested him walked by and the teen then threatened to “smoke” the cop.
But Tuesday was 57 days of jail later.
The teens made no threats.
The two in court, who each had no prior record before the January fight, had pleaded guilty to assault by a mob and trespassing weeks ago. The S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice did an evaluation of both, when each was separated from the other kids involved, who were acting so tough when around other tough guys.
When apart, neither teen got in any trouble, according to DJJ and prosecutors. Each denied gang affiliation.
The lawyer for the 14-year-old – the child who threatened the officer and was by all accounts, the loudest mouth of all at the outset – said the kid was “mouthing off.”
The threats, the claims of gang ties, of shooting an officer, were “immaturity, not malice…” the lawyer stated. “He keeps saying he’s sorry, and he wants to go home.”
The lawyer for the other teen claimed the incident was a fight, then bad behavior in front of the police that included constitutionally protected free speech. It all was blown out of proportion by, among other things, media coverage, the lawyer said.