Soldier who confronted Black man in viral video convicted of misdemeanor
A noncommissioned Army officer has been convicted of third-degree assault on Monday after a viral video showed him shoving a 22-year-old, ABC News reported.
Former Fort Jackson Army Sgt. Jonathan Pentland, 42, was found guilty of the misdemeanor. He must choose between spending 30 days in jail or pay a fine of $1,087.
Pentland was arrested after a video showed him shoving 22-year-old Deandre Williams and telling him, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood.”
Pentland is white and Williams is Black, but race did not come up in the courtroom, according to ABC.
Pentland defended his actions to the court, saying that he was trying to protect his family from a man who was acting strange.
Williams said that he was trying to avoid confrontation.
“As a young man, if I go on a walk, I shouldn’t feel any form of pressure,” Williams said after the verdict, according to ABC News.
Williams’s father also testified on the stand, emotionally saying that his son had a form of cancer that caused his brain to swell. As a result, Williams reportedly has trouble understanding things, ABC noted.
Prosecutor Paul Walton said Pentland violated the law three times: when he shoved Williams before the video started, when he shoved Williams after he took a step toward Pentland’s wife and again when he slapped Williams’s phone out of his hand as he held it up trying to record Pentland, ABC News reported.
However, defense attorney Benjamin Allen Stitely says the 2-minute video only represents a portion of what truly happened as the confrontation lasted 20 minutes. He said the Richland County Sheriff’s Department leaders did not fully investigate the incident.
“They didn’t want the truth. They wanted to make up a bully for TV’s sake,” Stitely said, according to ABC News.
Pentland has reportedly received thousands of death threats since the viral video. His wife also had to find a new job and his son a new school.
“It’s embarrassing to the community,” Pentland said during the hearing. “I’m sorry for the way it escalated. Anybody looking back at this, you can watch that video and 100% see that it looks worse than it is. I did what I felt I had to do to protect my friends and family.”