UPDATE: According to the Command Sergeant Major at Fort Jackson, SFC Jonathan Pentland has been charged by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department just hours after video of his encounter with a young Black man named Deandre went viral on social media.
The sheriff confirmed Jonathan Pentland has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault and battery. That charge carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
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.
The aggressive man in the video below is reportedly Sergeant First Class Jonathan Pentland, who is being investigated over a viral video incident that took place in Columbia, South Carolina.
The 42-year-old Pentland, currently based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, was identified by social media users on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, a day after the video was posted online.
In the video, Pentland can be seen pushing, threatening and yelling at a young Black male, who has been identified as Deandre, in the Columbia neighborhood where Pentland lives. There’s no indication in the video as to what precipitated the altercation.
The incident apparently took place on a public sidewalk in the Lakes at Barony Place development in the Summit neighborhood of Columbia. Pentland continually questions Deandre as to where he lives as he orders the young man over and over to leave the neighborhood, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood, mother-f*cker. Get out!”
There was also a part that I didn’t record of the taller man slapping the phone out of Deandre’s hands and stepping on it. The taller man also pushed Deandre several times off camera
The video was posted on Facebook by a Columbia woman, Shirell Johnson, who said she was walking in the neighborhood with a friend on Monday night, April 12, 2021, when they saw the incident unfolding.
Johnson says the video was recorded by a “young lady,” Shadae, and given to her to post online. Johnson said she, Shadae and her friend did not know Deandre before Monday night.
She adds that when the police arrived on the scene Deandre was informed Pentland could only be charged with “malicious injury to property” for slapping Deandre’s phone out of his hand and cracking the screen. But no assault charge even with the video recording.
Twitter got the video to Fort Jackson Commanding General Milford Beagle Jr. who tweeted, “This is by no means condoned by any service member. We will get to the bottom of this ASAP.”
This is by no means condoned by any service member. We will get to the bottom of this ASAP.
Beagle followed up with a post on Facebook:
Fort Jackson spokesperson L.A. Sully told the Charleston Post and Courierin a statement, “This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army Values and will not be condoned. We have begun our own investigation and are working with the local authorities.”
Fanning thus becomes the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military service — a milestone not lost on gay rights groups and coming five years after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which had prohibited gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexuality.
“Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., had held the nomination on hold over a dispute regarding Obama administration efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and possibly transfer detainees to the United States.
Roberts dropped his opposition after receiving assurances that detainees would not be transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Prior to the vote today, Roberts said, “He will be a tremendous leader as Army secretary and will do great by our soldiers at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.”
Politicians and advocacy groups alike celebrated the news:
Congratulations to Eric Fanning on historic appointment as the first openly gay @SECARMY. He’s capable, experienced & will lead with honor!
President Obama, in a historic first, has nominated Kenneth Fanning as Secretary of the Army today. Fanning would be the first openly gay Secretary of any branch of the United States’ armed forces.
Fanning would be the 22nd Secretary of the Army, the largest service branch of the U.S. military.
Fanning is currently serving as Acting Under Secretary of the Army and Chief Management Officer since June 30, 2015. He has been a specialist on defense and national security issues for more than 25 years in Congress and the Pentagon.
He has previously served at the Pentagon in many high level positions including deputy under secretary of the Navy under secretary of the Air Force, acting secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon chief of staff and acting under secretary of the Army.
President Obama issued this statement upon Fanning’s nomination:
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role.
“I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction. I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”