A white US Army officer who was filmed harassing a Black man for taking a walk in his neighbourhood in Columbia, South Carolina, has been charged with third-degree assault and battery, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Jonathan Pentland, a 42-year-old sergeant first class 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 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.”
The incident took place on Monday April 12, officials said. Police were called and responded to the neighborhood at the time.
In the video, Jonathan and his family were seen harassing and threatening a young black man, named Deandre, who explained he was just taking a walk in the neighbourhood in Columbia, South Carolina.
Pentland, 42, shoves the victim as he yells 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.
“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.”
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.