Drill sergeant Jonathan Pentland who shoved Black man gets to pick jail time or fine
Judge asked Jonathan Pentland to pick between 30 days in jail and a $1,087.50 fine for third-degree assault charges
RICHMOND COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: A South Carolina judge has allowed drill sergeant Jonathan Pentland to chose between jail time and a fine, in a controversial ruling on August 23. The options came after Pentland was found guilty of third-degree assault by Judge Diedra Simmons, over a viral video where he was seen shoving a Black man in April. In the video, Pentland can be seen shoving Deandre Williams in Richmond County.
The verdict came after the April 13 video made its way to the internet, where Pentland could be heard screaming "You are in the wrong neighborhood mother****er," before shoving Williams several times. As the video went viral, Pentland was targeted on social media, and his home was also vandalized. He was forced to move from the gated community to an undisclosed location. He was also suspended from the US Army, and faced charges in civilian court, rather than military court.
The video of Pentland is one of the many that social media users have captured in recent times, as Black Americans continue to be targeted for their race. A similar incident occurred in May, as a Black hotel clerk was beaten by a White couple who didn't get hot water in their room. Pentland was charged by the Richland County Sheriff's Department days after the video went viral, and now it appears he will get to pick his own punishment.
Pentland found guilty
The two-day bench trial was overseen by Judge Diedra Simmons, in Richland County. During the trial, several eyewitnesses came forward to recount the incident that occurred that day. The officer who arrested Pentland testified that the video of the confrontation spoke for itself. Others noted Williams was acting "erratic" or volatile before the incident. Williams' father testified that it was because his son was suffering from lymphoma, leading to potential brain damage.
Reportedly, he is now in remission and "struggles to complete basic tasks." Prosecutor Paul Walton attributed Pentland's actions to the fact that "his pride is hurt." Walton told Simmons, "He's a drill sergeant and he's used to people doing what he says." Pentland defended himself saying, "I would never have put my hands on him, except in self-defense. I would never have harmed him." His attorney, Benjamin Allen Stitely, argued that Pentland was simply defending his family and friends. The defense also argued that the police had decided to file charges against Pentland, even as he was being interviewed. The judge also brushed aside claims that the investigation was not "thorough," as claimed by Stitely.
In the end, the judge found Pentland guilty of third-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor. She then allowed Pentland to chose whether he would pay a fine, or serve jail time. It is unclear what option he chose. It is also unclear if Pentland will be able to rejoin the army, or if he will face further actions. His commander earlier said he trusted the justice system to "bring a fair resolution" to the matter. At the time of his arrest, he was a drill instructor at Fort Jackson, where soldiers undergo basic combat training.