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Army sergeant found guilty of assault for shoving Black man in viral video

Jonathan Pentland must choose between paying a $1,087 fine or serving a 30-day prison sentence.

U.S. army NurPhoto via Getty Images

The army sergeant who shoved a Black man he accused of being in the “wrong neighborhood” has been convicted of third-degree assault and battery. A magistrate judge ruled that Fort Jackson Army Sgt. Jonathan Pentland was found guilty of the misdemeanor on Monday (Aug. 23) and ordered him to pay a $1,087 fine or serve a 30-day sentence behind bars.

“It’s embarrassing to the community,” Pentland said in court. “I’m sorry for the way it escalated. Anybody looking back at this, you can watch that video and 100 percent see that it looks worse than it is. I did what I felt I had to do to protect my friends and family.”

Pentland first made headlines in April after a video surfaced of him pushing 22-year-old Deandre Williams. In the footage, he instructed the Black man to leave his Columbia, South Carolina neighborhood and threatened to carry his “ass out” if he didn’t comply.

“I did not do anything,” Williams said, to which Pentland responded, “I am about to do something to you. You better start walking. You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherfucker. Get out.”

During the encounter, Pentland was captured as he pushed and slapped the 22-year-old’s cellphone out of his hands. Despite the attack, however, he maintains that he was only trying to help a neighbor who asked him to confront Williams after he allegedly bothered her daughter and grandson.

According to CNN, Pentland’s attorney Benjamin Stitely believes that there was a ”lack of investigation into the background factors regarding Mr. Williams’ actions leading up to the small portion of the encounter captured in the viral video.” He and the army sergeant — who was suspended from his post in the wake of the incident — are now looking to challenge the court’s decision.

“As quoted in several of the local media outlets, Mr. Pentland stands by his right to defend his family and home from a genuine treat and is deeply hurt by the situation,” Stitely said in a statement.

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