A Black pastor sues the police who arrested him while watering his neighbors’ flowers

This image, taken from a bodycam video released by the Childersburg (Ala.) Police Department and provided by attorney Harry Daniels, shows Michael Jennings being released into custody on May 22 in Childersburg, Ala. Jennings was helping a friend by watering flowers when officers showed up and arrested him moments later.

AP. via Childersburg Police Department


hide caption

toggle caption

AP. via Childersburg Police Department

PastorJennings e381e464a9e707c442934dcfcf4c6377158b3c0b s1200

This image, taken from a bodycam video released by the Childersburg (Ala.) Police Department and provided by attorney Harry Daniels, shows Michael Jennings being released into custody on May 22 in Childersburg, Ala. Jennings was helping a friend by watering flowers when officers showed up and arrested him moments later.

AP. via Childersburg Police Department

Black pastor Michael Jennings, who was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers, has filed a federal lawsuit against the police officers in his custody.

The trial also names the city of Childersburg, which oversees the police department that arrested Jennings, as the defendant.

Jennings, a longtime pastor at Vision of Abundant Life Church in Silacoauga, Ala., is represented by national civil rights attorney, Harry Daniels, and attorneys Bethany Embry Jones, Joey Travis and Roderick Van Daniels. He hosted a news conference with the Alabama NAACP on Saturday to discuss the matter.

“I’m here for accountability, and I’m here for justice,” Jennings said.

The lawsuit says Jennings suffered from emotional distress and “significant PTSD type symptoms” including nightmares and flashbacks.

He is asking a jury to hear the case and determine compensation and punitive damages as well as money to cover the cost of the trial, including attorneys’ fees.

Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton said in a statement to NPR that there are concerns about the officers’ training.

“These poor judgment decisions reflect poorly on the type of training Childersburg police officers would receive … if they were acting in accordance with police guidelines,” he said.

Lawyers representing Jennings said the release of the body camera video would clear the way for “more legal action against officers.”

“This video makes it clear that these officers decided they were going to arrest Pastor Jennings in less than five minutes and then tried to rewrite history by claiming he didn’t recognize himself when It was the first time he did it,” Daniels said. A statement for NPR.

Jennings said he was watering his out-of-town neighbor’s flowers on May 22, pursuant to his request, when a Childersburg police officer showed up.

“I’m gonna live here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street,” Jennings told the officer in body camera footage obtained by NPR.

“I’m looking for their home while they’re gone, watering their flowers,” he said.

PastorJenningsChurch 74c0f3779c2b984bb9dc25710f390db4744bdb9b s1100 c50

Michael Jennings is a pastor at this church in Sillacouga, Ala. Jennings was arrested in May while irrigating flowers at a neighbor’s home in nearby Childersburg.

Jay Reeves / AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Jay Reeves / AP

PastorJenningsChurch 74c0f3779c2b984bb9dc25710f390db4744bdb9b s1200

Michael Jennings is a pastor at this church in Sillacouga, Ala. Jennings was arrested in May while irrigating flowers at a neighbor’s home in nearby Childersburg.

Jay Reeves / AP

Upon his arrival, police arrested Jennings and placed him in the back of a police cruiser—later accusing him of obstructing government operations, according to a criminal complaint.

“When he first pulled, I already knew it was going to be something,” Jennings said in an interview with NPR.

Jennings recalls that when police arrived at her neighbors’ house, she immediately noticed the officers’ behavior.

,[The officer] Parked behind and turned around. And immediately, you can tell by the tone of his voice that I was already guilty,” he said.

In the 20-minute video, Childersburg Police Officer approaches Jennings as he is seen on camera watering plants in a yard. Once the officer approaches Jennings and asks him what he’s doing, he replies: “Water the flowers.”

The unidentified officer asks Jennings if the car parked in the neighbor’s path is his. Jennings replied to the officer saying that the car belonged to his neighbor.

Later in the video, the officer asks the pastor if he stays at the house, and he tells the officer that he does not.

The exchange between Jennings and the officer begins to sparkle as Jennings explains to the officers that he has done nothing wrong. He tells the authorities: “I told him I’m a pastor. … You want to lock me up, you want to lock me up. … Shut me down and see what happens. I want you to “

Jennings, himself a former police officer, is seen in the video handcuffed for not providing his identity to officers.

The charges against Jennings were dismissed by a municipal judge later in June.

Throughout NPR’s multiple reports on the incident, the Childersburg Police Department has not responded to NPR’s request for comment.

Alabama law states that any officer may “detain any person abroad in a public place” if they suspect that person is committing a crime or has committed any other public offense—and the person’s names, addresses and their May ask for clarification of actions.

However, Jennings’ attorneys emphasized in their statement that “Alabama’s Stop and Identify Law did not require Pastor Jennings …

Source link