A Black pastor is planning on suing police in Alabama after he was handcuffed and arrested for watering his neighbor’s flowers while they were on vacation, despite the fact they had asked him to do so.
In May, Pastor Michael Jennings of the Vision of Abundant Life Ministries in Sylacauga was arrested in front of his neighbors yard in what he calls a case of racial profiling after police say they received a complaint about a strange man and vehicle on the property.
Jennings could be seen watering the flowers with a hose in body cam footage as he identified himself as a pastor and longtime neighbor of the property he was currently standing on.
An officer then handcuffed Jennings, despite another neighbor intervening in his defense.
Arrested And Charged With Obstruction Of Government Operation For Watering Flowers
Jennings was arrested and taken to jail regardless, and charged with obstruction of government operation, according to WBRC.
Police put a Black pastor in handcuffs for watering his neighbor's flowers… When did being a good Samaritan warrant a police call?! This pastor could’ve been injured or worse because of a false 911 call. The over-policing of our neighborhoods will only lead to tragedy! pic.twitter.com/oJ3pkrZLNQ
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 23, 2022
But the scene that played out beforehand appeared to be a classic case of racial profiling, concerns of which Jennings raised during the arrest, video shows.
“How do we know that’s the truth?” an officer asked him. “I had the water hose in my hand! I was watering the flowers,” Jennings replied.
Body camera footage shows as three officers from the Childersburg Police Department scream at the pastor after he refused to provide any form of identification.
He eventually found out that the person who called the police knew him. however she did not recognize him when she dialed 911, the outlet reports.
“Ya’ll racially profiled me,” Jennings said in disbelief. “We’re not facially profiling you,” an officer responds. “Yes you did.”
Pastor Michael Jennings Files Discrimination Against Alabama PD For Arresting Him While Watering His Neighbors Plants While They Were Out Of Town As They Had Requested https://t.co/QGvVRRcgVu pic.twitter.com/Ursr3klK0f
— PaperChaserDotCom (@PaperChaserBlog) August 24, 2022
Pastor Calls Arrest A Case Of Racial Profiling, Which Arresting Officers Deny
One of the officers denied that the arrest had anything to do with racial profiling, saying “we’re not facially profiling you…. we’re not about that, okay?”
“He is going to be so p***** when I tell him I got arrested for watering his flowers,” Jennings said of his neighbor.
Jennings’ wife and daughter eventually arrived on scene to identify him, but he was arrested and charged regardless.
Authorities later determined that the “suspicious” vehicle belonged to another man.
The charges were dropped a month later, however the pastor is now looking to file a discrimination lawsuit against the officers, according to WIAT.
“Last I checked, watering roses ain’t no crime,” Jennings told the outlet.
Though the misunderstanding was cleared up, police said that they couldn't "un-arrest" pastor Michael Jennings and charged him with obstructing government operations. https://t.co/tzoQzUO0EM @ChurchLead #MichaelJennings #PoliceProfiling
— ChurchLeaders.com (@ChurchLead) August 24, 2022
Pastor Intends On Filing Discrimination Lawsuit After Charges Were Dropped
When asked why he didn’t just provide identification to the officers, the pastor said he feared police might “put a bullet” in his back if he made a move towards his home, where his ID was kept.
Having a background in law enforcement himself, Jennings also knew that he didn’t need to provide identification because he hands committed a crime and was on private property, the outlet reports.
Jennings’ attorney said the body cam footage clearly shows police denying him of his rights before revealing the names of the officers involved in the arrest as J. Gable, Christopher Smith and Sgt. Jeremy Brooks.
The lawsuit against the department has yet to be filed as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Childersburg Police Chief Rick McClelland told WVTM that the department will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident.