‘I’m not anti-police’: Childersburg pastor arrested while watering neighbor’s flowers files federal lawsuit against city, officers

Body camera video of pastor arrested while watering neighbor's flowers
Body camera video of pastor arrested while watering neighbor's flowers
Published: Sep. 10, 2022 at 12:42 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2022 at 1:04 PM CDT
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CHILDERSBURG, Ala. (WBRC) - Attorneys for Pastor Michael Jennings, the Childersburg pastor who was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers, filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Childersburg and the officers who arrested Jennings in May 2022.

The lawsuit was officially filed Friday, September 9, 2022.

Pastor Jennings is represented by national civil rights attorney Harry Daniels (Law Offices of Harry Daniels), Bethaney Embry Jones (The Embry Law Firm) and Joi Travis (Travis Law, LLC).

The lawsuit was announced during a news conference Saturday in Birmingham. During the news conference Jennings said, “One thing I want to make crystal clear is I am not anti-police. We need the police or there would be chaos. But there are bad police and there are good police.”

Pastor Jennings speaks following lawsuit announcement
Attorneys for Pastor Jennings announce lawsuit
Attorneys for Pastor Jennings announce lawsuit(WBRC)

New video, from the police body cam, was released in August that showed the pastor arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers.

Disclaimer: This video contains some foul language.

(Source: The Law Offices of Harry M. Daniels LLC)

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 were dropped the following month.

It all started with Jennings being a good neighbor, according to attorney 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.

Daniels said the video clearly showed police denying Jennings his rights.

WBRC reached out to Childersburg Police Chief Richard McClelland for comment, we will update this article when we hear back.