Fort Jackson Drill Instructor Convicted in Assault of Black Man Will Move to New Duty Station, Army Says

The Fort Jackson drill instructor convicted in civilian court last month of a misdemeanor assault captured on video will be moved to a new duty station, officials at the Army post in South Carolina said Friday.

Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Pentland received an undisclosed punishment from the Army and will soon be moved to his next permanent duty station as he has “fulfilled his assignment obligation at Fort Jackson,” said L.A. Sully, a spokeswoman for the installation. Pentland was sentenced Aug. 23 to either 30 days in jail or a fine of $1,087 after a two-day bench trial in Richland County magistrate court on a single count of third-degree assault and battery.

“The Richland County trial is complete,” Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson’s commander, said in a statement. “We are the nation’s Army and we continue to value and strengthen our shared trust with our local communities. Soldiers are trained to conduct themselves in a respectful manner and adhere to the Army values. They are also held accountable when they do not.”

Sully and other Army officials declined to provide information about the Army punishment Michaelis gave Pentland, citing “privacy considerations.” She and other Army officials also declined to name Pentland’s next duty station.

A spokesman for Army headquarters at the Pentagon also said Friday that the service could not provide any additional information.

Pentland, 42, was seen on video yelling at a young Black man, telling him to leave the soldier’s Columbia, S.C., neighborhood. The video was posted to social media in April and shared widely. Pentland is seen in the video shoving the man — an incident that raised accusations of racism against Pentland, who is white. Richland County sheriff’s deputies said Pentland struck the victim at least three times. They arrested him on the assault charge on April 14.

That same day, then-Fort Jackson commander Brig Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. suspended Pentland from his drill instructor duties. Beagle has since moved and taken command of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., and was promoted to major general.

Beagle in April said Pentland’s actions violated Army values, but he said he would let the civilian case against Pentland play out before handing down any military punishment or charges.

At the trial, Pentland’s lawyer, Benjamin Allen Stitely, argued the soldier was defending friends and family in the neighborhood by confronting the young man, who had been accused of erratic behavior before the video was taken, The State newspaper in Columbia reported. Stitely decried the accusations of racism against Pentland, according to the newspaper report.

Several witnesses testified the 22-year-old victim had displayed erratic behavior in a number of incidents leading up to the video, according to The State. In one instance, a woman accused the man of picking up a baby without permission. The man was also accused of harassing women in the neighborhood, according to the newspaper.

Law enforcement officials at trial, however, testified Pentland’s physical response to the incident was unwarranted, the newspaper reported.

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