Charleston police officers are stepping up their patrols of the West Ashley Greenway after a woman on Monday evening said she was tackled to the ground and beaten by a stranger after she "waved and smiled" at the man.
The woman was running north along the Greenway shortly after 6:30 p.m., in the area between Canterbury Road and Markfield Drive.
During the course of her run, the woman, who The Post and Courier is not identifying, waved and smiled at a man on his bike headed in the opposite direction, according to an incident report.
The man then screamed at her and demanded to know what the woman was looking at. He then tackled her from behind, the report said, throwing as many as six closed-fist punches.
Police said the woman had lacerations on her neck, chest and her right ear. After the assault, the man — described as an African-American in his 20s with shoulder-length dreadlocks and a turquoise shirt — fled south on his bike.
He did drop several items out of a grocery bag he was carrying: a water bottle, a spoon and two food containers, according to the report.
Those items, police said, were collected as evidence.
Last year, police responded to multiple violent assaults — largely on women — who were using the Greenway, a popular fixture among runners, cyclists and dog-walkers.
In May 2018, Charleston police said a man punched a woman in the face, knocking her to the ground after she challenged him for riding a moped on the path, which is prohibited.
A passerby confronted the moped-rider after seeing the incident unfold from afar. When the moped-rider lost control of his vehicle, he pulled out a pocket knife and slashed the passerby's hands and arms, according to an incident report.
The Charleston Police Department has six officers assigned to the bike unit that patrols the area, agency spokesman Charles Francis said, adding that the group patrolled the Greenway for nearly 230 hours between July and December 2018.
In those hours, police said they made contact with upwards of 1,528 residents.