The white Columbia, South Carolina soldier seen in a viral video harassing a black man in the Summit neighborhood was arrested this morning, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a press conference Wednesday evening.
Sgt. Jonathan Pentland, a Fort Jackson soldier, was charged with 3rd-degree assault and battery at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Lott said in a 5 p.m. press conference.
Lott said it was a “swift response by law enforcement,” but he did not say why the sheriff’s department waited all day to make this announcement. Before Lott’s 5 p.m. announcement of the charges, protesters gathered in the Summit neighborhood where the assault took place Monday.
Throughout the day, hundreds of people tweeted in response to the video asking why he hasn’t been arrested.
According to the jail log, Pentland was given a $2,125 bond and was transferred to Fort Jackson Wednesday evening.
Around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Richland County sheriff’s department tweeted that protests around Pentland’s home became “violent,” and the family was removed from the home. Officials asked that protesters leave the area. The neighborhood has been closed off by police.
Lott said the sheriff’s department was aware of the incident on Monday, but the video was a key piece of evidence in the investigation.
The video, originally posted by Shirell Johnson, shows Pentland screaming and shoving an unidentified black man walking in the Columbia neighborhood.
“The only thing he did was be black while walking!!!” Johnson said on Facebook.
Lott said the black man is “a victim in this” and he did not name him during the press conference. When asked what events led up to the assault, Lott said the actions that occurred before the video didn’t justify the assault.
However, the Post and Courier reported that the Richland County deputies said in a statement April 13 that the black man in the video could have been a suspect involved in two other incidents in the Summit neighborhood. Lott made it clear in the press conference that the black man in the video was not facing any charges.
Johnson said the black man lived close by in the Summit of Columbia, SC and had walked in that neighborhood before.
Last night, the video (below) went viral on Twitter and has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
The video shows two minutes of the confrontation.
In fear for the black man’s safety, a neighbor recorded the incident on video, according to Johnson’s Facebook post.
“What do you think you’re doing here?” Pentland asked.
“Walking,” the black man said.
The neighbors told the black man they had called the police on him.
“You’re in the wrong neighborhood, motherf*cker,” Pentland screamed at the black man.
Pentland screamed at the black man several times and got close to his face.
“You’re the aggressor, buddy,” a neighbor, who appears to be Pentland’s wife, shouted at the black man.
“You’re aggressing on our neighborhood,” Pentland told the black man.
The black man then tried to step closer to the woman to speak to her. Pentland then shoved him and started yelling threats.
“I’m about to do something to you, you better start walking right now!” he shouted.
A woman, who is apparently Pentland’s wife, accused the black man of starting trouble with “some random young lady” at the end of the video.
According to Johnson’s Facebook post, Pentland smacked the black man’s hand and broke his phone after the video stopped recording.
Johnson said police were called to the scene.
“The officer told us that his supervisor told him that he could only charge the white guy with malicious injury to property and not assault!” Johnson wrote on Facebook.
On Wednesday morning, Richland County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that they were aware of the incident.
“Sheriff Lott will meet with elected officials and reps of various organizations today to discuss the Summit incident. We are aware of the disturbing video and have taken this incident seriously,” RCSD officials tweeted at 8:35 a.m. — five minutes after Pentland was allegedly arrested.
Why didn’t they just say then that they had made an arrest in the case?
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After several people IDed the accused man in the video as a Fort Jackson soldier, Fort Jackson Commanding General Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. said officials at the military base are investigating.
“This is by no means condoned by any service member. We will get to the bottom of this ASAP,” the Commanding General’s Twitter account said.
Beagle said that the Department of Justice is investigating the incident at the federal level as well.
Pentland faces a total of 30 days in jail and or a $500 fine for the assault charge.
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