Black pastor in Alabama says he was wrongfully arrested while watering flowers : NPR

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  tacos  •  4 weeks ago  •  11 comments

By:   NPR. org

Black pastor in Alabama says he was wrongfully arrested while watering flowers : NPR
Attorneys representing Michael Jennings said the release of the body camera video will clear the way for "legal action against the officers and more."

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



August 30, 20226:00 AM ET

Jonathan Franklin

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Pastor Michael Jennings of Childersburg, Ala., says he was arrested and charged with a crime while watering his neighbor's flowers. Childersburg Police Department/Screenshot by NPR hide caption

toggle caption Childersburg Police Department/Screenshot by NPR

Pastor Michael Jennings of Childersburg, Ala., says he was arrested and charged with a crime while watering his neighbor's flowers.

Childersburg Police Department/Screenshot by NPR

A Black pastor in Alabama says he was wrongfully arrested and charged with a crime while he was watering his neighbor's flowers.

Michael Jennings, a longtime pastor at Vision of Abundant Life Church in Sylacauga, Ala., says he was doing a neighborly deed of watering his out-of-town neighbor's flowers, per their request, when a police officer showed up.

"I'm supposed to be here. I'm Pastor Jennings. I live across the street," Jennings told the officer with Alabama's Childersburg Police Department, in newly released body camera footage of his arrest obtained by NPR.

"I'm looking out for their house while they're gone, watering their flowers," he added.

Following their arrival, officers arrested Jennings and placed him in the back of a police cruiser — later charging him with obstructing government operations, according to a criminal complaint.

Body camera footage captured of Jennings' arrest on May 22 was released by his attorneys last week, who are calling the situation unlawful.

The attorneys representing Jennings say the release of the body camera video will furthermore clear the way for "legal action against the officers and more."

"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," said Harry Daniels, an Atlanta-based attorney representing Jennings, in a statement to NPR.

"It's irrational, irresponsible and illegal," he added.

During the 20-minute video obtained by NPR, a 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 is doing, he replies: "Watering flowers."

The officer, who was not identified by authorities, asks Jennings if a car parked in the neighbor's driveway belongs to him. Jennings responds to the officer saying the car belongs to his neighbor.

Later in the video, the officer asks the pastor if he lives at the home, and he says to the officer that he does not.

The officer says to Jennings that the police are responding to a call involving a "suspicious vehicle" and a suspicious person that's "not supposed to be in the yard," and the officer asks Jennings for his identification.

"Who's saying that?" Jennings asks the officer.

"They called about it. ... I don't know," the officer says to Jennings.

The exchange between Jennings and the officer leads to shouting, as Jennings explains to the officers that he has done nothing wrong. He tells the officers: "I told him I'm a pastor. ... You want to lock me up, lock me up. ... Lock me up and see what happens. I want you to."

Jennings, a former police officer himself, is seen on video placed in handcuffs for not providing the officers with his identification.

Following Jennings' arrest and being placed in handcuffs, the neighbor who called authorities about Jennings being a "suspicious person" tells the police officers that she recognizes him.

"He lives right there, and he would be watering their flowers. This is probably my fault," the neighbor tells the police.

But despite the woman telling officers she knows Jennings, he is still arrested and charged.

"This was not only an unlawful arrest. It's kidnapping," Daniels, the attorney, said.

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

The Childersburg Police Department did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment on the issue. NPR reached out to Jennings for an interview, but attorneys representing him told NPR he is not doing any interviews at this time.

Under Alabama law, any officer "may stop any person abroad in a public place" if they suspect that the person is committing or has committed a felony or another public offense — demanding the person's name, address and explanation of actions.

However, attorneys for Jennings said in their statement that "Alabama's Stop and Identify Law did not require Pastor Jennings ... to identify himself because he was not in a public place."


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Tacos!
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Tacos!    4 weeks ago

Here is a link to the full 20 minute body cam video:

Most of the deeply stupid stuff develops in the first 5 minutes.

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
1.1  evilgenius  replied to  Tacos! @1    4 weeks ago

My wife has been following this one. She was telling me about it before NPR took up the story from another source, but NPR's article contains more information.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2  Trout Giggles    4 weeks ago

I hope he sues them for righteous bucks

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
3  Ender    4 weeks ago
Following Jennings' arrest and being placed in handcuffs, the neighbor who called authorities about Jennings being a "suspicious person" tells the police officers that she recognizes him. "He lives right there, and he would be watering their flowers. This is probably my fault," the neighbor tells the police.

Now she says this?

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
3.1  seeder  Tacos!  replied to  Ender @3    4 weeks ago

I don't understand her. If you know the man, why would you call the cops?

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
4  seeder  Tacos!    4 weeks ago

Some jurisdictions are "stop and identify," meaning that police can ask a person to identify themselves and there is a criminal penalty for not doing so. Usually, (though not always) they have to have some reason - for example, they suspect a person of committing a crime. Usually, they also have to be in a public place. Watering flowers wouldn't seem to qualify as reasonable suspicion of a crime, and standing in the yard of a private house might not qualify as a public place.

In any event, assuming police can demand he identify himself under these circumstances, that is exactly what happened. The first thing Pastor Jennings did was to identify himself, stated where he lived, and what he was doing. The statute does not say he has to produce a driver's license - just that he identify himself, which he did.

Even if police were really concerned about identifying this nefarious flower-waterer, it seems like his identity would have been an easy enough thing to verify without arresting the man.

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
4.1  evilgenius  replied to  Tacos! @4    4 weeks ago

The person that called even confirmed the identity. It's just another case of cops getting pissy when someone doesn't kiss their ass. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
5  Tessylo    4 weeks ago

I guess he he is counting his lucky stars for not being shot dead while watering his neighbors' flowers

 
 
 
Thomas
Sophomore Guide
5.1  Thomas  replied to  Tessylo @5    4 weeks ago

That is only because he didn't run to refill his watering can.... 

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Masters Silent
6  SteevieGee    4 weeks ago

Just a couple of a hole cops who have dreams of being Kyle Rittenhouse when they grow up.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
7  squiggy    4 weeks ago

Is anybody going to show up and accuse the pastor of milking a payday?

 
 

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