Childersburg Pastor arrested while watering neighbor’s flowers proceeds with discrimination lawsuit
CHILDERSBURG, Ala. (WBRC) - New video released tonight of a Childersburg pastor who was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers. You’ll see this intense confrontation in the police body camera video sent to our newsroom Tuesday.
Disclaimer: This video contains some foul language.
The 20-minute video shows Pastor Michael Jennings of Vision of Abundant Life Ministries in Sylacauga, being confronted and arrested by police while watering flowers at a neighbor’s home.
“Y’all racially profiled me,” Jennings said in the video.
“We’re not racially profiling you,” the unidentified officer responded.
“Yes, you did,” replied Jennings.
“No sir, no sir,” the arresting officer rebutted. “We’re not about that okay?”
“I told you I was here watering flowers,” Jennings responded.
“How do we know that’s the truth,” the officer asked.
“I had the water hose in my hand! I was watering the flowers,” Jennings laughs.
The conversation between an unidentified officer with the Childersburg Police Department, one of three who arrived at a home to confront Pastor Jennings in May 2022, didn’t get Jennings out of going to jail.
Jennings was arrested and charged with obstructing government operations. Those charges dropped the following month.
It all started with Jennings being a good neighbor, according to Georgia-based civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, one of three attorneys representing Jennings.
Daniels said Jennings’ long-time neighbor asked him to water his yard while the neighbor was out of town but while he was performing his neighborly duties, police say someone reported a suspicious vehicle and person on the property.
In the video, Jennings can be heard telling police the gold SUV didn’t belong to him. Jennings told officers his name and said his home was across the street.
The officer then asked Jennings for his identification and Jennings refused. Jennings told officers he had a background in law enforcement and knew he didn’t have to produce identification because he was not committing a crime. Shortly after, Jennings walked away with the officers following behind.
Jennings was placed into handcuffs, his phone taken, and sat down on nearby steps.
“He is going to be so p***** when I tell him I got arrested for watering his flowers,” Jennings said at one point in the video.
Daniels said the video clearly showed police denying Jennings his rights.
“It represents an abuse of police powers. It represents racial profiling and it represents law-enforcement officers intimidating a person who actually understands and knows their rights,” Daniels said.
The charges against Jennings were dropped the following month, however, Daniels said they were still planning to sue the department.
“These cases put law enforcement on notice and the country on notice that these types of interactions — thank God that Pastor Jennings had a cool head. He didn’t get aggressive or defensive in a sense, and he complied when the officers grabbed him. But Brittany, it could’ve went a different way. Pastor Jennings could very well not be here today,” Daniels said.
The gold SUV seen on the property came back as registered to the neighbor who lived in the home where Jennings was watering flowers.
The lawsuit against the Childersburg Police Department had not been filed when this article was written.
Daniels said Jennings was doing okay but the emotional toll of the experience would take time to recover from.
WBRC reached out to Childersburg Police Chief Richard McClelland for comment, we will update this article when we hear back.
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