A Black Alabama pastor claims he was wrongly arrested and charged after his neighbor called the police on him while he was watering his neighbor’s flowers. According to NBC News, lawyers for Michael Jennings released the footage of the incident this week, “clearing the way for legal action against the officers,” they announced in a news release.
Per footage of the May 22 incident, Jennings is seen watering his neighbor’s flowers when a Childersburg officer walks up to him. “What are you doing here man?” the officer asks Jennings.
“Watering flowers,” the Black pastor responds.
The officer asks Jennings if he is the owner of the car parked on the property. But Jennings responds saying the car belongs to his neighbor. The officer also asks Jennings if he stays in the residence, and Jennings tells him no.
The officer then explains to Jennings that someone called the police to report a suspicious person on the property. “Who’s saying that?” Jennings asks the officer.
“They called about it. … I don’t know,” the officer replies.
“I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street,” Jennings, who’s still watering the flowers, says. “I’m looking out for they house while they gone.”
The officer subsequently asks the Black pastor to provide identification, but he refuses and tells the officer that he hasn’t broken any law. Jennings also informs the officer that he was once with law enforcement.
“You want to lock me up. Lock me up. I’m not showing y’all anything,” Jennings is heard saying. “I’m gonna continue watering these flowers. … I don’t care who called y’all. Lock me up and see what happens.”
The officer later handcuffs Jennings for refusing to show identification.
The police responded to the residence after Jennings’ White neighbor called authorities to make a report about a suspicious person outside the home, NBC News reported. The neighbor later apologized to Jennings after she became aware he was the one on the property.
“He lives right there and he would be watering their flowers. This is probably my fault,” Jennings’ neighbor tells the responding officers.
But the officers still arrest Jennings. His attorney, Harry Daniels, said the Black pastor was charged with obstructing government operations. The charge was, however, later dismissed by a municipal judge.
“This video makes it clear that these officers decided they were going to arrest Pastor Jennings less than five minutes after pulling up and then tried to rewrite history claiming he hadn’t identified himself when that was the first thing he did,” Daniels said. “This was not only an unlawful arrest. It’s kidnapping. It’s irrational, irresponsible and illegal.”
Alabama law stipulates that officers officer “may stop any person abroad in a public place” if they have certain suspicions about the individual’s activities. But Jennings’ attorneys, in the news release, said it wasn’t necessary for their client to provide identification “because he was not in a public place.”
“Chief McClelland and the Childersburg Police Department may think all they have to do is drop the charges and this all goes away,” one of Jennings’ attorneys, Bethaney Embry Jones, said.
“This was a crime, not a mistake. I would hope that the Childersburg Police Department would understand the difference.”