No good deed goes unpunished, or so they say. While Michael Jennings might be inclined to agree, he intends to bring suit against the Childersburg Police Department.
Jennings believes the Childersburg Police Department violated his rights while he was doing a favor for a friend.
On May 22, Jennings, a pastor, was arrested by Childersburg Police Department officers while watering his neighbor's flowers when they were out of town.
The drama ensued after Jennings refused to present identification while on his neighbor's private property and was subsequently arrested. A female resident of the area had dialed 911 about a "younger Black male" and gold SUV that she saw at the house even though the owners were away, according to a call transcript obtained by The Associated Press.
"I'm supposed to be here," Jennings told the officers. "I'm Pastor Jennings. I live across the street."
After Jennings refused to give his ID and continued to water the plants, another officer, identified in a police report as J. Gable, put the pastor in handcuffs.
The woman who had called the police apologized after recognizing Jennings.
"Does he have permission here to be watering flowers?" Officer Smith asked.
"He may, because they are friends," she replied. "They went out of town today. He may be watering their flowers. It would be completely normal."
Jennings was charged with obstruction of governmental operations. Then-Chief Richard McClelland threw out the charge after a few days. McClelland retired in early August for reasons unrelated to Jennings's arrest.
Despite having his charges thrown out, Jennings plans to bring a suit against the city of Childersburg and the Childersburg Police Department.
Jennings appeared on the Joe Madison show on SiriusXM's Urban View to discuss his arrest and upcoming lawsuit. Jennings said the woman who initially called the police never saw him watering the plants; she only heard voices coming from a home she knew to be vacated while the neighbors were out of town.
"The explanation that she gave them was that she heard voices over there — she thought it was the voice of a young man," Jennings said. "She didn't think anyone was supposed to be in their yard. And she also asked them not to arrest me because she's the one who called, and she made a mistake, and it was her fault."
Jennings also said that nobody from the city or the police department contacted him after the arrest.
Jennings' attorney, Bethaney Embry Jones, also appeared on the show to discuss the lawsuit. According to Jones, the legal team is weighing the complaints and charges they can level against the city and the police department.
"He had the right to be there," Jones said. "And they came, used their power and abused their power, and intimidated him. And so, they violated his Fourth Amendment rights. We can assert that, in this situation, there was assault, there was battery, there was kidnapping. We have a gamut of state and legal charges that we are going to bring against the city of Childersburg, as well as the police department of Childersburg. I don't want to give away all of what we are putting in our complaint."
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