A non-commissioned white Army soldier has been charged with third-degree assault after a viral video depicted him shoving a Black man walking in a South Carolina neighborhood.
Staff Sergeant Jonathan Pentland, 42, faces a maximum fine of $500 and 30 days in jail.
Pentland was caught on a viral video filmed earlier this week shoving a Black man on the sidewalk outside a home, accusing the man of “harassing the neighborhood” and telling him “you’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*cker.”
It’s unclear from the recording what sparked the confrontation or what happened after, but Shadae McCallum, who lives in the neighborhood and filmed the video, told the Post and Courier, the unidentified Black man was first approached by women who accused him of harassing their daughters, which prompted Pentland to come out of the house and talk to the Black man.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a press conference Wednesday the Black man may have been involved in previous incidents in the neighborhood where a 22-year-old Black man allegedly “twice put his hand around a woman’s waist and picked up a baby without consent,” according to the Post and Courier, but Lott emphasized that doesn’t justify the assault.
Pentland did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he told police who were called to scene that he was acting out of fear for him and his wife, according to the Post and Courier, and admitted to slapping the Black man’s phone out of his hand, which occurred after the video stopped recording.
“The first time I saw the video, it was terrible,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a press conference Wednesday. “It was unnecessary. It was a bad video. This young man is a victim.”
The video is just one in a long string of viral incidents involving white people confronting or calling the police on Black people, sparking protests outside Pendland’s house this week. Activists say the incident is another example of a Black man being victimized for simply existing or walking around. “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,” State Sen. Mia McLeod said on the Senate floor Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
The Department of Justice along with Army officials at Fort Jackson, where Pentland is stationed, are also investigating the incident. “The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video posted recently,” said Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. said in a statement.