BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (TBEN) – A black pastor who was arrested by white police officers while watering the flowers of an out-of-town neighbor filed a federal lawsuit alleging the ordeal violated his constitutional rights and caused ongoing problems, including emotional problems. distress and fear.
Michael Jennings filed a lawsuit Friday night against three officers and the city of Childersburg in central Alabama, seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount.
Jennings’ attorneys held a news conference outside Birmingham’s federal courthouse on Saturday to discuss the lawsuit, and the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, and other groups scheduled a meeting in a downtown park afterward.
“I’m here for accountability, and I’m here for justice,” Jennings told the press conference.
The suit alleged the actions of officers Christopher Smith and Justin Gable, Sgt. Jeremy Brooks and the city have violated rights protecting against unlawful arrest and guaranteeing freedom of expression. He cited multiple ongoing issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder and humiliation.
Childersburg city attorney Reagan Rumsey did not return an email seeking comment.
Jennings, 56, was arrested in May after a white neighbor called 911 and said a “younger black man” and a gold SUV were inside a home while the owners — who are friends of Jennings’s — had asked him to stay on their home. fit – were gone.
Jennings identified himself as “Pastor Jennings,” but refused to give identification to the officers, who arrested him on charges of obstructing government operations after a 20-minute confrontation with raised voices on both sides.
The charges were filed in the municipal court and dismissed within days at the request of the then police chief. Jennings’ lawyers released last month a video of the police body camera obtained after a request for data to the city, 88 kilometers south-east of Birmingham.
Benard Simelton, chairman of the NAACP’s Alabama branch, said the officers who arrested Jennings were doing “so many things” that were inconsistent with the good tactics of the community police.
“These poor review decisions poorly reflect the kind of training Childersburg police officers would receive…if they acted in accordance with police guidelines,” Simelton said in a statement.
While Jennings could have filed a claim against the city seeking damages, attorney Harry Daniels said he couldn’t because the arrest was well within the legal timeframe for a trial.