The Army staff sergeant who is seen in a viral video harassing a Black man on the street in a South Carolina suburb was suspended Thursday after being charged with third-degree assault, according to HuffPost.
Sgt. Jonathan Pentland was menacing and towering over the man in the video, insisting that he leave the neighborhood—even after the man said he lived in the area and was walking away. “I ain’t playing with you … I’m about to show you what I can do,” Pentland says to the man who, again, is not matching the soldier’s aggression.
Pentland’s wife accuses the man of harassing a woman in the neighborhood, but that hasn’t been verified. Richland County Sheriff Leon said the man has had some issues in the neighborhood lately, but none of those instances justified Pentland’s behavior.
Fort Jackson commander, Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr, said in a tweet Thursday that a soldier’s conduct must be maintained at the highest levels at all times:
Here is more on what lead up to the incident, according to a witness who captured the incident on video, per the Associated Press:
According to Shirell Johnson, who posted the video, the incident happened in a subdivision of The Summit, which has a Columbia address but is technically outside the city’s limits. The video does not show what started the conflict. Johnson did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking further details.
The recording begins with Pentland, a U.S. 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 three-minute 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 said. “I’m about to do something to you. You better start walking right now.”
At the end of the video, a woman who 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.
If convicted on the third-degree assault charges, Pentland faces 30 days in jail and and a $500 fine.
South Carolina State Sen. Mia McLeod, who represents the area, said Wednesday that she planned to meet with the sheriff later in the day to discuss the incident.
“My sons have a freaking right to live,” said McLeod, according to the AP. “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.”