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White soldier charged with assault for shoving, berating Black man in viral video

ABC News logo ABC News 4/15/2021
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A white active-duty soldier who was seen in a viral video berating and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood has been charged with third-degree assault and battery, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

"The first time I saw the video, it was terrible," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a press conference Wednesday evening. "It was unnecessary. It was a bad video -- young man was the victim, the individual that was arrested was the aggressor, and he's been dealt with accordingly."

© @shadaenotadu/Twitter

Jonathan Pentland, who is a U.S. Army soldier assigned to Fort Jackson, was arrested at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday and was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. If found guilty, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

The incident took place on Monday, officials said. Police were called and responded to the neighborhood at the time.

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In the video, posted to Twitter, the man, identified as Pentland, is seen confronting a Black man walking down the sidewalk and yelling at him to leave the neighborhood, known as The Summit, in Columbia, South Carolina.

Pentland, 42, shoves the victim and yells and curses at him: "You better start walking right now. You're in the wrong neighborhood, m-----f-----. Get out!"

The victim protests, saying he did nothing wrong, and is followed by the suspect who continues berating him.

a person standing on a sidewalk: Jonathan Pentland, a U.S. Army soldier assigned to Fort Jackson, S.C., pictured in video that went viral after the incident, has been charged with third-degree assault and battery for harassing a Black man near his home. © @shadaenotadu/Twitter Jonathan Pentland, a U.S. Army soldier assigned to Fort Jackson, S.C., pictured in video that went viral after the incident, has been charged with third-degree assault and battery for harassing a Black man near his home.

"The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video posted recently," Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson's commander, said in a statement. "This action deeply impacts our community -- the neighbors in the Summit, the city of Columbia, Richland & Lexington counties, and our Army family."

"I ask that our communities and leaders exercise a degree of patience, affording Sherriff Lott and law enforcement investigators to account for the full measure of events before, during, and after the incident that was recorded," the statement added.

According to the sheriff's department, the victim "approached several neighbors in a threatening manner and the confrontation escalated after a neighbor asked Pentland to intervene."

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The sheriff said an unspecified underlying medical condition might have led to the victim approaching the neighbors.

Lott and Beagle said the Department of Justice is also looking into the incident.

The sheriff did not confirm the identity of the victim, but confirmed the Black man who was accosted is not a juvenile.

a person posing for the camera: This April 14, 2021, booking photo provided by the Richland County, S.C., detention center shows Jonathan Pentland. © Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center via AP This April 14, 2021, booking photo provided by the Richland County, S.C., detention center shows Jonathan Pentland.

Lott said once the video ended, Pentland also shoved the victim again and knocked his phone out of his hand when he tried to take a picture.

"The message I want to give is that when something like that happens, the sheriff's department is going to act very swiftly and we're going to hold those responsible for those [incidents] accountable," Lott said. "We're not going to let people be bullies in our community. And if you are, you're going to answer for it. And that's what we've done in this case."

Community leaders, activists, witnesses and the victim's father were interviewed by the sheriff's department during the investigation.

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Late Wednesday, the Richmond County Sheriff's Department said Pentland and his family were moved from their home after protests outside became violent and the home was vandalized. The street was shut down to nonresidents, as well.

Officials said they were called to the Pentland home around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday due to an unknown number of protesters vandalizing the home. One object thrown at the home went through an upstairs window and another broke a light fixture, authorities said.

"While RCSD has always supported peaceful protests, criminal acts will not be tolerated and those who committed this vandalism will face consequences," the sheriff's office said in a statement, according to ABC News South Carolina affiliate WOLO.

In a passionate speech from the South Carolina State House, state Sen. Mia McLeod referenced the video and spoke of the concern for her own children after the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

"An African American man was standing on the sidewalk, walking down the street, and was accosted by an angry white man and pushed and demeaned and publicly humiliated," said McLeod, who represents the Columbia area. "He could've have been killed. For what? For walking down the street while Black. If you don't believe that race-based hate is real, you don't have to come to my district to see it. All you have to do is turn on the news every single day."

ABC News' Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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