() — A black pastor in Alabama says he was arrested while watering his neighbor’s flowers, with his attorney calling the incident “unreasonable, irresponsible and illegal.”
In police body camera footage from May and released last week, an officer is seen approaching the man, Michael Jennings, who tells the officer that he has been asked to water flowers while a neighbor is away.
In the video that has since gone viral, the officer asks Jennings, from Childersburg, Alabama, what he is doing in the house and whose car is in the driveway. He says it’s the neighbor’s vehicle and identifies himself as “Pastor Jennings” without being asked.
Jennings tells the agent, “I’m supposed to be here. I’m Pastor Jennings. I live across the street.”
A policeman replies, “Are you Pastor Jennings?” And he replies, “Yes, I’m taking care of his house while they’re gone, taking care of his flowers.”
The agent then asks Jennings for identification and Jennings says that he will not give the agent any identification. Less than a minute and a half later, when Jennings tries to make a call on his phone, officers handcuff him, body camera video shows.
The officers in the video then speak with the neighbor who called 911, whose name is not identified. “They’re friends and they’re out of town today, so he could be watering his flowers and it could be completely normal,” she tells the agents about Jennings and the homeowner.
“He could be watering his flowers, this is probably my fault,” she says.
Later in the video, Jennings’ wife arrives and hands the officer her ID.
“She does tell us that it’s a mistake and all that, but at this point he has already received the charge,” the agent tells him.
“Once we put him under arrest, we can’t not arrest him,” the agent says.
He was arrested for “obstructing government operations,” but charges were later dropped, according to a police statement dated June 1, 2022.
Police were responding to a 911 call about a “suspicious” car parked at the residence and an individual “the caller did not recognize,” Childersburg City Police Chief Richard McClelland said in the statement. The person he called said his neighbors who lived at the residence were out of town and warned that the suspicious individual might be inside the residence, according to the police chief’s statement.
In an email to on Tuesday, a city attorney said the audio from the 911 call provides “vital” information about the incident.
has requested a copy of the transcript of this call.
“This video makes it clear that these officers decided they were going to arrest Pastor Jennings less than five minutes after pulling over and then tried to rewrite history by claiming that he had not identified himself when that was the first thing he did,” attorney Harry said. Daniels in a press release last week.
Midway through the video, officers can be heard discussing Jennings’ charges.
“We’re here to investigate a call and he wouldn’t give us his name or anything else,” says an agent.
“He told me he was trying to call the owner, but I still need his name,” he says.
“911 audio recording of the call and body camera footage of the officer was reviewed and interviews were conducted with the officers involved as part of my own investigation of the incident,” McClelland said in the statement.
“As a result of my investigation, I have recommended to the City of Childersburg municipal judge that the order be dismissed with prejudice,” McClelland said.