Michael Jennings, the Childersburg pastor arrested while watering his neighbor's plants, has filed suit against the city and three police officers.
On Saturday, Jennings and his lawyers held a news conference outside the Birmingham federal courthouse to discuss the lawsuit.
The suit alleged the actions of Officers Christopher Smith and Justin Gable, as well as Sgt. Jeremy Brooks and the city violated rights protecting against unlawful arrest and guaranteeing free speech. He also claims ongoing problems stemming from the arrest, including post-traumatic stress disorder and humiliation.
On May 22, Jennings 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.
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.
Benard Simelton, the president of the Alabama branch of the NAACP, said the officers who arrested Jennings did "so many things" that weren't in line with good community policing tactics.
"These poor judgment decisions reflect poorly on the type of training the Childersburg police officers receive … if they were acting in accordance within police guidelines," Simelton said in a statement.
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