Cheering man was removed from York County graduation. But swearing put him in jail

David Franklin Tolliver
David Franklin Tolliver Rock Hill Police Department

It wasn't the cheering that caused a York County man to be tackled and arrested by police during a high school graduation at Winthrop Saturday, police said.

It was the accusation of cursing in front of an arena of people afterward, officers said.

David Franklin Tolliver, 20, was charged with public disorderly conduct Saturday at the Nation Ford High School graduation held at Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill, police said.

Tolliver swore repeatedly in front of others after being told to leave after cheering, police said. Tolliver then ran from police who were trying to detain him, officers said.

York County graduations made national news in 2008, and for a few years afterward, when cheering spectators were arrested.

School districts hire off-duty officers who work under the supervision of Winthrop police to staff the ceremonies, said Rock Hill police Capt. Mark Bollinger.

The arrest of Tolliver came after he repeatedly swore in front of others, causing a disturbance, according to Bollinger and a police report.

Tolliver and other family members cheered for someone during the ceremony, and were asked to leave by an officer, a police report states. Tolliver "became upset and started using profanity in the presence of other families who were there to see their loved ones graduate," the report states.

Tolliver was told to stop cursing by the officer, but continued to swear in front of families and children as he walked up the steps of the coliseum, police said.

The officer tried to detain Tolliver at the top of the stairs, but he pulled away and ran down the concourse, police said.

Another Rock Hill officer "went to stop Tolliver, and had to take him to the ground," the report states.

Tolliver was handcuffed and taken to the Rock Hill city jail, where he was charged, police said.

Clapping, shouting or standing during the calling of graduate names during the ceremony at York County graduations is against the rules for all four York County school districts. The districts only allow families to cheer after all names are called.

School officials told students and families last week in a letter that "disruptive spectators" who "ignore" the rules would be removed and possibly arrested.

Winthrop Police Department Assistant Chief Wes Wiles said Tuesday that school districts set the policy for behavior at the ceremonies and that the policy has been in place for at least two decades.

Tolliver was the only person arrested at the two graduations Saturday, said Capt. Rod Stinson of the Rock Hill Police Department.

Other high school graduations continue this week at the Winthrop Coliseum, with Clover on Thursday, York on Friday, and all three Rock Hill high schools on Saturday.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald

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