Los Angeles Times

Soldier filmed shoving Black man is charged

- By Meg Kinnard Kinnard writes for the Associated Press.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A white noncommiss­ioned Army officer depicted in a viral video accosting and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborho­od has been charged with third-degree assault.

Jonathan Pentland, 42, was charged Wednesday and listed as detained in the Richland County jail and issued a personal recognizan­ce bond. Records did not show him as having an attorney.

The video, posted Monday by a woman on Facebook and shared thousands of times, shows a man, identified as Pentland, demanding that a Black man leave the neighborho­od before threatenin­g him with physical violence.

“You’re in the wrong neighborho­od,” the white man, standing on the sidewalk, can be heard saying to the other man before using an expletive. “I ain’t playing with you .... I’m about to show you what I can do.”

According to Shirell Johnson, who posted the video, the incident happened in a subdivisio­n of The Summit, which has a Columbia address but is outside the city’s limits. The video does not show what started the conflict. Johnson did not immediatel­y respond to a message seeking further details.

The recording begins with Pentland, an Army staff sergeant, asking the Black man what he’s doing in the area. The Black man says he was simply walking and not bothering anyone.

Throughout the threeminut­e video, Pentland continuous­ly demands that the other man leave the neighborho­od, getting in his face and, at one point, pushing 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 video, a woman whom Pentland identifies as his wife can be heard telling the other man that he had picked a fight with “some random young lady” in the neighborho­od, a claim the Black man then denies.

Johnson said authoritie­s arrived at the scene and only gave Pentland a citation for malicious injury to property for slapping the man’s phone out of his hand and cracking it.

Officials at Ft. Jackson, S.C., the Army’s largest basic training facility, said Wednesday they were looking into the incident. On one of its Twitter accounts, base officials also said that U.S. Department of Justice authoritie­s were investigat­ing.

According to social media accounts connected to Pentland, he has been stationed at Ft. Jackson since 2019 and has worked as a drill sergeant at the garrison, a 53,000-acre complex that trains 50% of all soldiers who enter the Army.

Asked on Twitter for his response to the video, Ft. Jackson Commanding Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. said the behavior “is by no means condoned by any service member.”

On his official Facebook page, Beagle said Army officials “have begun our own investigat­ion and are working with the local authoritie­s.”

Commenters on the video said they had reached out to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department asking for additional charges to be filed. In a release issued early Wednesday, a department spokeswoma­n said deputies had been dispatched to the neighborho­od for “an assault” call involving one of the men several days before the date of the video, and that all of the matters were under investigat­ion.

During an afternoon news conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the other man in the video, whom he did not identify, had been involved in other incidents in the neighborho­od in the days leading up to the video but said that “none of them justified the assault that occurred.”

“The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessar­y,” Lott said, noting that he had met with community leaders and elected officials. Lott said his investigat­ors had turned their case over to prosecutor­s, who determined what charge to levy against Pentland.

Pentland did not immediatel­y respond to an email seeking comment. If convicted, he faces up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

State Sen. Mia McLeod, a Democrat who represents the area, said Wednesday on the Senate f loor that she had spent much of the previous day in discussion­s about the incident and that she planned to meet with the sheriff later in the day.

“My sons have a freaking right to live,” said McLeod, who is Black. “Another unarmed Black man could be dead today because he was walking in a neighborho­od that, I am told, is adjacent to his, doing absolutely nothing.”

‘The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessar­y.’

— Leon Lott, Richland County, S.C., sheriff

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