Soldier seen in viral video harassing black man charged with assault

Jonathan Pentland is a U.S. Army sergeant first class who is being investigated over a viral video from Columbia, South Carolina. The 42-year-old Pentland is based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, according to now-deleted photos on his unit’s Facebook page. The video showing Pentland harassing and pushing a young Black male was recorded on Monday, April 12, 2021.

Pentland was arrested on April 14 and charged with third-degree assault and battery, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. The charge, also known as simple assault, is a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, according to South Carolina state law. Pentland was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center just after 3 p.m., records show. He made his first court appearance a few hours after his arrest and was released on a $2,125 personal recognizance bond, meaning he didn’t have to put any money up. He appeared before Magistrate Phillip Newsom in bond court. His next hearing date hasn’t been set. Pentland was barred from having contact with the victim and must stay 1,000 yards away from him, his home and his place of work, school or worship.

The video, which can be seen below, shows Pentland pushing, threatening and yelling at a 22-year-ld Black male, who has only been identified as Deandre, in the Columbia neighborhood where Pentland lives. Pentland can be heard in the video, which was posted on Facebook, telling Deandre to leave the neighborhood and questioning him when he says he also lives there.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department said the victim has an underlying medical condition and the RCSD is working to get him help he needs in order to divert him from the criminal justice system. According to the sheriff’s department, deputies had received two previous reports of incidents involving the victim and people in Pentland’s neighborhood, but he was not charged, and the department said the other incidents didn’t justify Pentland’s actions.

The incident took place on a public sidewalk in the Lakes at Barony Place development in the Summit neighborhood of Columbia, according to the woman who posted it. She said Pentland also broke Deandre’s phone.

After hundreds of Twitter users sent the video to accounts associated with Fort Jackson, many accusing Pentland of displaying racist behavior and asking if the Army condoned it, Fort Jackson Commanding General Milford Beagle Jr. tweeted, “This is by no means condoned by any service member. We will get to the bottom of this ASAP.”

Beagle added on Facebook the next day, “Fort Jackson officials are aware of the video taken in the Summit and it has our full attention. This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army Values and will not be condoned. We have begun our own investigation and are working with the local authorities. Thank you to the community for bringing this to our attention and we will get to the bottom of this ASAP.”

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter on April 14 that Sheriff Leon Lott “will meet with elected officials and reps of various organizations today to discuss the Summit incident. We are aware of the disturbing video and have taken this incident seriously. After the meeting, more information will be released publicly.”

The sheriff’s department added on Facebook, “Sheriff Lott realizes the importance of putting out correct information quickly as there has been a lot of incorrect information distributed through Facebook and other social media. We want to ensure the community knows this incident has been a priority for our Department. The video in itself is very disturbing and has helped tremendously in our investigation. More information will be provided when it becomes available.” Protesters gathered in Pentland’s neighborhood ahead of a scheduled 5 p.m. press conference.

Sheriff Leon Lott said at the press conference that Pentland was arrested at 8:30 a.m. on April 14. He said the deputies did not arrest Pentland Monday night because they did not have enough information and they wanted to investigate further to have a solid case. Lott said, “We are not going to allow bullies in our community. And if you are, you’re going to answer for it.”

Pentland and his wife, Cassie Pentland, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Heavy and it was not immediately clear if they had hired an attorney who could comment on their behalf.

Fort Jackson spokesperson L.A. Sully told the Charleston Post and Courier in a statement, “This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army Values and will not be condoned. We have begun our own investigation and are working with the local authorities.”

Fort Jackson Command Sergeant Major Philson Tavernier said on Twitter after Pentland’s arrest, the “Department of Justice at the federal level is also looking into the incident. … The command team, our Criminal Investigation Division (Army CID) agents, and our Staff Judge Advocate teams are all engaged with their professional counterparts and civil authorities to seek the facts which will determine how the investigations progress.”

Sheriff Leon Lott said there was nothing that happened before the video began or during other incidents in the neighborhood to justify the actions of Jonathan Pentland. He said he was not going to identify the victim because he is a victim. Lott said at the press conference, “It was terrible. It was unnecessary. It was a bad video. The young man was a victim. The individual we arrested was the aggressor.” He said investigators worked with the victim’s father. The victim is not facing charges.

The 3-minute viral video does not show what led to Pentland confronting the young Black male on a sidewalk in his Columbia neighborhood. It starts with Pentland telling Deandre, “Go away right now.” Deandre tells Pentland to call the police and Pentland’s wife, Cassie Pentland, tells him they’ve already been called. The couple can be heard telling Deandre he was “picking fights” with people in the neighborhood.

Pentland then asks him, “What is it that you are doing here?” and Deandre replies, “Walking.” Pentland then says, “Then walk.” Deandre can be heard saying he is walking back to his house, and Pentland’s wife cuts in and says, “Well you’ve been here like 15 minutes now,” and both Pentlands then tell him to keep walking. “Walk away,” Pentland says. “Walk away right now. You need help? I’m happy to help.” Pentland then denies hitting Deandre.

“There’s a difference between pushing you,” Pentland can be heard saying. He then tells him he is “aggressing on the neighborhood,” and then as Deandre begins walking down the sidewalk, Pentland violently shoves him in the shoulder, lifting him off his feet. The Army sergeant first class then says, “You better walk away,” and then yells, “You walk away. You’re talking to my wife right now.”

Pentland says, “You either walk away or I’m going to carry your a** out of here.” Deandre tells Pentland not to touch him and Pentland says, “What are you going to do?” He then says, “Let’s go, walk away. I’m about to do something to you. You better start walking right now. … You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*****. Get out.”

Deandre then tells Pentland he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland asks, “Where? Where’s your house? What’s your address?” The young man says he doesn’t have to tell him and Pentland’s wife then says, “Maybe we should walk you home.” The soldier then says, “Right now you are harassing the neighborhood. … We are a tight-knit community. We take care of each other. … I have never seen you before in my life.”

Pentland then gets into Deandre’s face and says, “Check it out motherf***** I’m not playing with you. You either get your a** moving or I’m going to move you. … I’m about to show you what I can do. You better walk away. Walk away.”

Lott said the video was the evidence needed to charge Pentland. “He put his hands on somebody, that’s assault and battery when you place your hands on someone. The video shows he did,” Lott said.

Per: Heavy

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