South Carolina authorities have charged a white Army drill sergeant for misdemeanor assault after a video went viral on social media showing him shoving and shouting at a black man walking through their neighborhood. The footage showed Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pentland, 42, accosted the black man whose name has not been released to the public.
In the video, Pentland is shown loudly demanding that the man “walk away” while getting in his face in an aggressive manner.
“We gave the facts of the case that we have and the evidence we have to the solicitor’s office, and also presented to a magistrate, and that’s who determined what charge would be brought,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a Wednesday news conference.
He said that it was “the fact that he put his hands on somebody” that brought about the misdemeanor charge.
Officials stated that on Wednesday night, the family was removed from their home after demonstrators gathered outside the residence. Some of these individuals reportedly threw objects at the home.
The video was initially posted on Facebook Monday and was “shared more than 22,000 times” according to Fox News. Pentland continually asked the man “what is it you’re doing here?”
The man answered, “walking.”
‘You’re in the wrong neighborhood, motherf*cker’
Video of Army sergeant Jonathan Pentland of Columbia, SC harassing Black neighbor pic.twitter.com/JplfFRd1Dy
— Jack©️ (@Jackasaurus3) April 14, 2021
A woman that was identified as Pentland’s wife can be heard in the video claiming that the black man had picked a fight with “some random young lady” in the neighborhood. Law enforcement has not indicated whether or not this accusation is true.
“[Pentland] touched somebody,” Lott explained. “That’s an assault. That’s assault and battery when you place your hands on someone, and he did. The video showed that he did, and that’s the evidence that we have that he was charged with.”
Lott did not release the black man’s name, but he indicated that he had “been involved in other incidents in the neighborhood before the video was filmed,” according to Fox News. But he also confirmed that “none of them justified the assault that occurred.”
“There were some other things that occurred that really doesn’t justify the actions of the suspect,” Lott said.
The officers who originally responded to the scene had only given Pentland a citation for alleged malicious injury to property related to the damage he caused to the black man’s phone.
If convicted, Pentland could be facing a $500 and up to 30 days in jail, the sheriff said.
Army officials are also considering disciplinary measures. Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr. issued a statement which said: “The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video posted recently.”