Newly released bodycam footage of a Childersburg pastor being racially profiled while watering his neighbor’s flowers in May has sparked outrage on social media.
The viral video shows Pastor Michael Jennings of Vision of Abundant Life Ministries in Sylacauga, being confronted and arrested by police while watering his neighbor’s garden since they were away.
‘You’re Not Supposed to be Here’
The clip starts off with an officer with the Childersburg Police Department asking Jennings what he was doing on the neighbor’s property.
“Watering flowers,” he responded.
The officer then asks, “You live here?”
“Nah, I don’t live here,” Jennings says.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” the officer says to the pastor, adding that they’re responding to a complaint.
‘I’m Lookin Out for Their House While They’re Gone’
“I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings, I live across the street,” Jennings is heard saying. “I’m lookin out for their house while they’re gone.”
The officer then asks Jennings to provide identification because he’s responding to reports of a “suspicious man in the yard.” Pastor Jennings refuses, prompting one of the officers to handcuff and arrest him.
One officer then speaks to a neighbor who corroborates Jennings’ claim that he’s friends with the neighbor and may be watering their plants because they’re out of town.
“I told you I was here watering flowers,” Jennings says.
“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. Watch the video below:
Jennings to Sue Police Department
Jennings was arrested and charged with obstructing government operations. The charges against Jennings were dropped the following month, however, Jennings is now planning to sue the department.
According to civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, one of three attorneys representing Jennings, 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.
“These cases put law enforcement on notice and the country on notice that these types of interactions â 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, it could’ve went a different way. Pastor Jennings could very well not be here today,” Daniels added.