A soldier at Fort Jackson has been charged with third degree assault and battery after a video showed him shoving and threatening a Black man who was walking inside a Richland County subdivision. Jonathan Pentland, 42, was charged on Wednesday after accusing his victim of "hanging around" a South Carolina gated community, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters.
The video of the incident made its way to the social media, which the police used as evidence. A two-minute clip of the confrontation shot on a cellphone camera, sparked protests in the neighborhood where the men clashed and triggered angry responses from lawmakers as the country grapples with race relations.
The cellphone footage was posted to Facebook on Monday and has since been shared thousands of times. "The most vital piece of evidence we have was the video," said Sheriff Lott, during a press conference announcing the charges.
It didn't take much time after watching the video to identify Pentland. The video shows him in an altercation with a young Black man at the Lakes at Barony Place located in the Summit neighborhood. "You're in the wrong neighborhood motherf**ker," he tells the victim, identified only as Deandre. "I ain't playing with you. ... I'm about to show you what I can do."
The three-minute recording doesn't show what happened before the soldier got into an argument with the man. The video begins with Pentland asking the Black man what he's doing in the area. He responds that he was just walking and not bothering anyone.
However, Pentland continues to repeatedly order him to leave the place and at one point even gets in his face and then pushes the man, who almost falls to the ground.
"Let's go, walk away," he says. "I'm about to do something to you. You better start walking right now." At the end of the clip, a woman identified as Pentland's wife can be heard telling the other man that he had picked a fight with "some random young lady" in the neighborhood, a claim he denies.
Not the Right Attitude
Authorities had originally handed Pentland a citation for malicious injury to property for slapping the man's phone out of his hand and cracking it. But now the video has given enough evidence to charge Pentland. If found guilty, Pentland could face 30 days in jail and a fine of $500. He is listed as detained in the Richland County jail and issued a personal recognizance bond, according to online jail records, which did not show him as having an attorney.
Fort Jackson Commanding General Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr, took to Twitter to announce that the video would be investigated. Records and Photos show that Pentland is a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson in South Carolina since 2019.
Sheriff Lott said Pentland had not been arrested on the day as it took officers some time to investigate properly. He said he would not be naming the victim but confirmed the young man was not a juvenile, adding that he will not face any charges.
Even though Pentland is found guilty, he will be out of jail in a month. But the incident is being seen as a much bigger issue as the country grapples with race relations. "The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessary," Lott said.
"The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video posted recently," Beagle said in a statement. "This action deeply impacts our community — the neighbors in the Summit, the city of Columbia, Richland and Lexington counties, and our Army family."
About 40 protesters showed up outside the home of the soldier around noon April 14, shouting, "This is our neighborhood, too!"
"This young brother could have been another hashtag instead of a living, breathing warrior," Jerome Bowers, CEO of One Common Cause: Community Control Initiative, said during the protest.
Lott said his investigators had turned their case over to prosecutors, who determined what charge to levy against Pentland.