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Army sergeant accused of assaulting a Black man will be tried in civilian court

Jonathan Pentland has been charged with third-degree assault.

Joanthan Pentland Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center via AP

A white Army drill sergeant who was arrested and charged for harassing and assaulting a Black man for being “in the wrong neighborhood” will be tried in a civilian court.

According to the Military Times, Sgt. First Class Jonathan Pentland’s assault case has been turned over to local authorities in South Carolina by Fort Jackson Commanding Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. “While I have the authority to take action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or take other administrative actions, I have the utmost confidence in our civilian criminal system and trust that it will reach a fair and just resolution of this case,” Beagle said in a statement. “I do not want to take any actions now that could interfere with the fair resolution of civilian criminal charges.”

“I want to reiterate that the command in no way condones the behaviors and actions depicted,” he continued. “Those behaviors are absolutely counter to the Army Values and professionalism expected of soldiers, both on and off duty. Your Army is committed to confronting racism, extremism, and corrosive behaviors, but I must remain mindful of protecting due process in both the civil and military jurisdictions as this proceeds.”

Pentland was charged with third-degree assault and suspended from his post after he was caught on camera pushing and yelling at a man named Deandre who was walking in a Columbia, South Carolina neighborhood earlier this month.

In the video, which was originally shared on Facebook, the 42-year-old drill sergeant can be heard telling Deandre to leave his neighborhood. Deandre then told the sergeant not to touch him and Pеntland replied, “What are you going to do?” Hе thеn says, “Lеt’s go, walk away. I’m about to do somеthing to you. You bеttеr start walking right now. … You’re in thе wrong nеighborhood mothеrfucker. Gеt out.”

Pentland also physically assaulted the man by pushing him and slapping his hand so hard that his cellphone fell and cracked. His third-degree assault charge is a misdemeanor and he faces a fine of not more than $500 and/or 30 days behind bars.

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