Was a U.S. Army Sergeant Caught On Video Harassing a Black Youth?

A white sergeant in the U.S. Army was arrested on April 14 2021, days after video spread online of him berating a Black youth in a subdivision near Columbia, South Carolina.

The local Post & Courier newspaper confirmed that 42-year-old Jonathan Pentland is the man caught on video questioning the youth, who has been identified as Deandre, and accusing him of “aggressing [sic] on [his] neighborhood.”

The footage first spread on Facebook following a post by Shirell Johnson on April 12 2021. Her post has been shared more than 21,000 times on the platform:

Johnson did not, however, record the video; a separate woman, Shadae McCallum, filmed the encounter and posted it to Twitter a day later.

“I went for a walk yesterday evening and I encountered a young man (Deandre)in distress,” McCallum wrote. “I decided to record the incident in order to protect this black man from possibly becoming a statistic.”

The video does not capture how or why Pentland first approached Deandre. At one point, an unseen woman — later identified as Pentland’s wife — claims that Deandre has been in their subdivision “like 15 minutes.” The video shows Pentland demanding that Deandre leave the area. Pentland also claims that Deandre has “harassing us for awhile.” Pentland’s wife also claims that Deandre “picked a fight” with a female neighbor.

The clip ends with Deandre walking away from Pentland; Johnson said in a follow-up post that Pentland slapped Deandre’s phone out of his hand.

The footage spread further on Twitter as users set out to identify Pentland:

Command Sergeant Major Philson Tavernier confirmed on his own Twitter account that Pentland was stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia and that he had been charged by authorities in Richland County. Tavernier added that the Department of Justice was also reviewing the incident.

“The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video and will work closely with each law enforcement agency as investigations move forward,” Tavernier added.

According to the Washington Post:

According to social media accounts connected to Pentland, he has been stationed at Fort Jackson since 2019 and has worked as a drill sergeant at the garrison, a 53,000-acre complex that trains 50% of all soldiers and 60% of women who enter the Army each year.

In a press conference, Sheriff Leon Lott said that Pentland had been charged with third-degree assault and battery in connection with the incident, a charge carrying a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and $500 fine.

Lott did not confirm the youth’s name, but did say that he was the victim in the encounter.

“The fact that [Pentland] put his hands on somebody, he touched somebody, that’s an assault,” Lott said. “That’s assault and battery The video shows that he did, and that’s the evidence we have that he was charged with.”

Lott also said that there had been “other issues” in the past involving the victim but added, “none of them justified the assault that occurred.”