(NewsNation) — Alabama Pastor Michael Jennings was asked by his neighbor to water their flowers while they were away from their home. Jennings was doing just that when police arrested him.
Police can be seen on body camera footage approaching Jennings in late May while he was watering the flowers, telling him he “wasn’t supposed to be” there, then placing him under arrest in an incident Jennings told WFXR’s sister station, NewsNation, he knows was racial profiling by the Childersburg, Alabama, police.
Police said they were responding to a report of a “suspicious vehicle.” Jennings did not have his ID but did tell the officers who he was and why he was there, he told WFXR’s sister station, WIAT, in the days after the incident.
The original neighbor who called police told officers that she made a mistake and begged them not to arrest Jennings once she realized it was her friend and neighbor. The woman’s account is detailed in the incident report.
Jennings was arrested for obstruction.
According to the police incident report obtained by WIAT, officers claimed Jennings was belligerent and walking away from police and threatened a lawsuit for racial profiling. The longtime clergy leader admitted he was not happy, but said none of his actions warranted an arrest.
“It’s outrage, it’s shame,” Jennings said on NewsNation. “I felt dehumanized with what happened to me. It’s embarrassing, humiliating and everything else because of what they did.”
Jennings had an idea the police were going to approach him when he saw their car driving very slowly on a road behind the house.
“I don’t think they were trying to stop anything, they were trying to catch something,” Jennings said. “When they approached me and started talking to me, it seemed surreal. … Is this really going to happen over flowers?”
Charges against Jennings were dropped a week later. Still, the incident left Jennings hurt.
“As a person, it hurt my feelings, it was an insult to me, it dehumanized me,” Jennings said. “I would like for people just to be aware of the society and the state of mind that people are in now. Racism is at its highest. It is just ludicrous and ridiculous the way people are treating other people for no reason.”
Jennings is still considering a racial-discrimination lawsuit against Childersburg Police. He told NewsNation that he is seeking justice.
WIAT’s Drew Taylor and Michael Clark contributed to this report.