Black pastor arrested while watering neighbour’s flowers, video shows
In police body camera footage from May and released last week, an officer is seen approaching the man, Michael Jennings, who tells the officer he has been asked to hose down the flowers while a neighbor is gone.
In the video that has since gone viral, Jennings, of Childersburg, Alabama, is questioned by the officer about what he is doing at home and the car in the driveway. He says it’s the neighbor’s vehicle and identifies himself as “Pastor Jennings” without being asked.
Jennings tells the officer, “I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street.”
An officer responds, “You’re Pastor Jennings?” And he answers: “Yes, I take care of their house while they are away, I take care of their flowers.”
The officer then asks Jennings for ID and Jennings says he won’t give the officer any ID. Less than a minute and a half later, as Jennings tries to make a call on his phone, officers handcuff him, body camera footage shows.
Officers in the video later speak with the neighbor who called 911, who is not identified by name. “They’re friends and they went out of town today, so he might be watering their flowers, and that might just be normal,” she told officers of Jennings and the landlord. .
“He would be watering their flowers, it’s probably my fault,” she said.
Later in the video, Jennings’ wife arrives and provides the officer with her identity.
“She tells us it’s a mistake and all that, but at this point he’s already got the charge back,” the officer tells her.
“Once we place him under arrest, we cannot unarrest him,” the officer said.
He was arrested for “obstructing government operations”, but the charges were later dropped, according to a June 1, 2022 police statement.
Police were responding to a 911 call about a ‘suspicious’ car parked at the residence and a person ‘whom the caller did not recognize’, Childersburg City Police Chief Richard McClelland said in the communicated. The caller said his neighbors who lived at the residence were out of town and indicated that the suspicious person may be inside the residence, according to the police chief’s statement.
In an email to CNN on Tuesday, a city attorney said the audio of the 911 call provided “vital” information about the incident.
CNN has requested a copy of the transcript of that call.
“This video clearly shows that these officers decided to arrest Pastor Jennings less than five minutes after pulling over, then attempted to rewrite history by claiming he had not identified himself when it was the first thing he did,” attorney Harry Daniels said. said in a press release last week.
In the middle of the video, officers can be heard discussing the charges against Jennings.
“We’re here to investigate a call and he hasn’t given us his name or anything else,” an officer said.
“He told me he was trying to call the owner, but I still need his name,” he said.
“The 911 audio recording of the call and the officer’s body camera footage have been reviewed and interviews have been conducted with the officers involved as part of my own investigation into the incident,” it said. McClelland said in the statement.
“As a result of my investigation, I have recommended to the Municipal Judge for the City of Childersburg that the warrant be dismissed with prejudice,” McClelland said.