Black pastor arrested while watering neighbor’s flowers sues city, cops

A Black Alabama Pastor Who Was Arrested While Watering His Neighbor’s Flowers Has Filed a Lawsuit Against the City and the Police Officers Who Arrested Him.

On Friday, a black Alabama pastor who was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers filed a federal lawsuit against Childersburg and three police officers.

Pastor Michael Jennings of Abundant Life Church in Sylacauga, Alabama, filed a complaint on Friday in the Northern District of Alabama, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated during his arrest, as reported by NBC News.
The complaint names as defendants the city of Childersburg and three police officers, Christopher Smith, Justin Gable, and Jeremy Brooks.

Jennings was taken into custody by Childersburg police on May 22 after a white woman dialed 911 to report him as a suspicious person.

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Since his neighbor had placed the pastor in charge of watering the flowers while he was out of town, Jennings was doing so at the time.

According to surveillance evidence published last month, he informed officers, “I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street.”
While they’re out of town, I’ll be keeping an eye on the house.

Jennings denied the officer’s request for identification and insisted he was innocent when he was asked by Smith.
Officer Brooks is accused in the lawsuit of telling Jennings to “shut his mouth” and “listen” before placing him in handcuffs.

The officer “already figured I was guilty by the way he questioned me and the way he talked to me,” Jennings said during a news conference on Saturday.

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As he continued, he emphasized, “One thing I want to make very clear, I’m not anti-police. We need the police. Without the police, we’ll have full pandemonium.”
But they knew they could do what they did that day without consequence, and it left me feeling dehumanized.

The 911 caller apologized to Jennings and told officers she knew him from the neighborhood in an effort to diffuse the situation.
Jennings’s wife can be seen on camera presenting his identity card to the responding officers.

Law enforcement “refused to release Pastor Jennings from their custody” and instead “booked and transferred” him from the scene to the Talladega County Jail, where he remained until his wife posted bail.

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Jennings was arrested on charges of impeding government operations after he refused to produce identification when asked to do so.
In June, however, the prosecution decided to abandon the accusations.

In Alabama, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a citizen is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a felony or other public violation, he or she may detain that citizen in a public location.

Pastor Jennings, however, was not required to present identification by Jennings’ lawyers “because he was not in a public setting,” they said.

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