Fort Jackson Suspends Drill Instructor Involved in Alleged Assault of Black Man

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Viral video that allegedly shows a confrontation in Summit, South Carolina.
Screenshot from a viral video of a sidewalk confrontation in the town of Summit, South Carolina. (Screengrab from Shirell Johnson’s Facebook page)

Army officials at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, have suspended a drill instructor who was arrested Wednesday after a viral video allegedly showed him assaulting a Black man in his neighborhood.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department charged Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault, then transferred the 42-year-old to Fort Jackson authorities late Wednesday evening.

"Pentland has been suspended from instructor duties pending the completion of the investigation and outcome of the criminal charges," Jackson spokeswoman Leslie Ann "LA" Sully said Thursday in a news release.

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The video, posted Monday on Facebook and shared thousands of times, shows Pentland, who is White, demanding that a Black man leave his neighborhood before threatening him with physical violence.

"You're in the wrong neighborhood," Pentland says to the man in the video. "I ain't playing with you. ... I'm about to show you what I can do."

Throughout the three-minute video, which does not show how the incident started, Pentland repeatedly demands that the other man leave the neighborhood, getting in his face and, at one point, shoving the smaller man.

During an afternoon news conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the other man in the video is an adult but declined to release his name. Lott said that the man had been involved in other incidents in the neighborhood in the days leading up to the video but added that "none of them justified the assault that occurred."

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston on Thursday weighed in on the incident via Twitter.

"Fort Jackson leadership has my full trust and confidence to respond to this situation appropriately," he tweeted.

Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., commander of Fort Jackson, said in the release that his command continues to work with "our local law enforcement professionals, and community & civil leadership as this case moves forward."

"Soldier conduct on and off duty must be exemplary to retain the trust of our communities and our nation," he added.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: Jonathan Pentland, a Fort Jackson Soldier, Arrested and Charged After Confrontation with Black Man

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