A Black man watering his neighbor’s flowers was arrested after the Childersburg, Alabama police officers responded to a White neighbor’s call reporting of a suspicious person outside the house.
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.
Footage of the incident was recorded on May 22, in which Mr. 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 man responds.
The officer then explains to Jennings that someone called the police to report a suspicious person on the property. “Who’s saying that?”, the Black man 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 eventually asks the Black pastor to provide identification, but he refuses and tells the officer that he hasn’t broken any law.
Jennings per the footage informs the officers 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 White neighbor that called the police realizes she called on her neighbor. “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 Mr. Jennings 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.”Harry Daniels
Alabama law stipulates that 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.”