Alabama pastor arrested while watering neighbors’ plants sues


Pastor Michael Jennings was arrested in Alabama earlier this year while watering his neighbor’s flowers. He says the mistaken arrest was racial profiling. (WIAT)

CHILDERSBURG, Alabama (NewsNation) — The Alabama pastor who was arrested while watering his neighbors’ flowers has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Childersburg and three of its officers.

Michael Jennings was arrested in May after a white neighbor called 911 and said a “younger Black male” and a gold SUV were at a house while the owners were away. The homeowners are friends of Jennings, who, according to NPR, is a longtime pastor at Vision of Abundant Life Church in Sylacauga, Alabama.

When asked by one officer what he was doing at the property, the lawsuit says Jennings answered “I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street.”

“Notably, Pastor Jennings was holding a water hose in his hand and watering flowers” when speaking to the officer, the lawsuit states.

However, he refused to show his identification card.

The officers ended up arresting Jennings on a charge of obstructing government operations after a 20-minute confrontation.

“It’s an outrage, it’s a shame,” Jennings has previously said on “NewsNation Prime.” “I felt dehumanized with what happened to me.”

Charges were ultimately dropped in the case.

Jennings told NewsNation that he knows the incident was racial profiling.

“I would like for people just to be aware of the society and the state of mind that people are in now. Racism is at its highest,” Jennings said. “It is just ludicrous and ridiculous the way people are treating other people for no reason.”

Childersburg city attorney Reagan Rumsey didn’t return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. NewsNation has reached out to the interim Childersburg Police chief for comment as well.

Jennings’ lawsuit states that he is bringing constitutional claims against all the defendants for committing acts that deprived him of his rights under the Constitution. He is also bringing state law claims of false arrest against the named defendants: officers Christopher Smith, Justin Gable, Jeremy Brooks and the city.

“As a direct and proximate result of the individual Defendants’ wrongful conduct,” Jennings sustained substantial injuries, the lawsuit said. Injuries listed in the suit include loss of rights, emotional distress and aggravation of pre-existing conditions, as well as emotional distress with “PTSD type” symptoms.

Read the lawsuit below:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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