Michael Jennings, Arrested for Watering Flowers, Sues Police

Pastor Michael Jerome Jennings is seen on police body-worn digital camera footage as he waters a neighbor’s crops, because the neighbor had requested, earlier than being arrested (picture by way of YouTube screengrab/ABC Information.)

A Black pastor in Alabama who was arrested and charged with obstructing a authorities operation whereas watering an out-of-town neighbor’s crops has filed a civil rights lawsuit in opposition to the officers.

Michael Jerome Jennings was arrested on Might 22 as he watered the crops exterior his neighbor’s dwelling. In keeping with the lawsuit, Jennings’ neighbors have been away, they usually had requested him to water his crops whereas they have been gone.

Jennings’ lawyer, Harry Daniels, filed a lawsuit on Friday alleging that Jennings, a longtime pastor at Imaginative and prescient of Ample Life Church in Sylacauga, Alabama, was wrongfully arrested and charged. Along with federal civil rights claims, Jennings can also be bringing a state legislation declare of false arrest in opposition to all of the defendants, the lawsuit says.

Apparently a neighbor, recognized within the grievance solely as Amanda, had known as 911 and complained that an SUV parked on the neighbor’s property wasn’t imagined to be there, and neither was Jennings.

Of their interplay with Jennings, Childersburg Police Officers Christopher Smith, Justin Gable, and Jeremy Brooks demanded to see Jennings’ ID. In keeping with Jennings, state legislation solely permits law enforcement officials to demand to see somebody’s identification if the officer “moderately suspects” that individual is about to or has dedicated a felony “or different public offense,” and they’re “in a public place” on the time.

The lawsuit notes that Jennings did inform the police who he was.

“I’m imagined to be right here,” he informed Smith, who was the primary to method Jennings. “I’m Pastor Jennings. I stay throughout the road.”

“I’m looking for his or her home whereas they’re gone, watering their flowers,” he additionally stated.

Gable then approached Jennings, who “tried to stroll away and proceed his good deed of watering his neighbor’s flowers,” the grievance says. At that time, Jennings was positioned in handcuffs, and Smith took his cellphone away.

Brooks was the third to reach on the scene, and based on the grievance, the state of affairs continued to escalate:

Defendant Brooks informed Pastor Jennings that they’ve a proper to establish him, and he wanted to take heed to them and shut his mouth. Pastor Jennings informed Defendant Brooks they should pay attention, and he must shut his mouth and to not discuss to him like he’s a baby. Instantly, after Pastor Jennings categorical his discontent of how Defendant Brooks was chatting with him, Defendants Smith determined to arrest Pastor Jennings. Defendant Brooks concurred with Defendant Smith and informed Pastor Jennings he was going to jail. 17. Defendant Gable escorted Pastor Jennings to his patrol automobile. Notably, Defendants Brooks and Smith acknowledged that Pastor Jennings was on non-public property as they have been strolling to run a license plate test on the gold SUV that was within the yard.

Jennings, whereas handcuffed, is finally taken to the again of a police automobile. He was arrested and charged with obstruction of presidency operation.

In keeping with the lawsuit, the law enforcement officials who arrested Jennings had no foundation to take action.

“No affordable officer within the people Defendants’ place may have believed there was debatable possible trigger that Pastor Jennings dedicated the offense obstruction of presidency or every other prison act previous to his arrest,” the grievance says. “Moreover, Pastor Jennings was arrested in retaliation after partaking in constitutionally protected speech and conduct. The person Defendants’ arrest of Pastor Jennings was malicious, willful or with a reckless or wanton disregard of Pastor Jennings’ constitutional rights.”

The costs have been later dismissed with prejudice, the lawsuit notes.

Amanda, who’s white, is seen on body-worn digital camera footage approaching the officers. She acknowledges that she is the one who known as the police and that on the time, she didn’t acknowledge Jennings.

“He lives proper there, and he could be watering their flowers,” she tells police, based on a report by ABC Information. “That is most likely my fault.”

The lawsuit says that Amanda refused to supply her final identify and identification to the Childersburg police on the scene.

Jennings’ spouse additionally corroborated the pastor’s id to police, however police refused to let him go.

“Regardless of that truth Pastor Jennings recognized himself to Defendants Smith underneath no authorized obligation to take action; Regardless of that truth Amanda validated who Pastor Jennings was and that he most likely had permission to be on the non-public property; Regardless of that truth Pastor Jennings’ spouse produced his identification to the person Defendants; The person Defendants refused to launch Pastor Jennings from their custody and took him to the Childersburg Metropolis Jail after which he was booked and transported to the Talladega County Jail,” the grievance says.

The costs have been dismissed with prejudice on Jan. 1, the grievance additionally says.

In keeping with the lawsuit, Jennings “suffered misplaced future earnings and impaired earnings capacities from the not but absolutely ascertained sequelae of his accidents.”

He says that he continues to endure from having been wrongfully arrested.

“The Defendants’ motion prompted the Plaintiff to endure from emotional misery, with vital PTSD kind signs, together with disappointment, anxiousness, stress, anger, melancholy, frustration, sleeplessness, nightmares and flashbacks from his illegal arrest,” the grievance says.

Jennings’ lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to attorneys’ charges.

An individual who answered the cellphone on the Childersburg Police Division declined to remark and referred Legislation&Crime to town lawyer, Reagan Rumsey, who didn’t instantly reply to Legislation&Crime’s request for remark.

Learn the grievance, offered to Legislation&Crime by Daniels, beneath.

[Image via YouTube screengrab/ABC News.]

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