(Memphis) James Winstead wants to make right what he says is a wrong.
It started as a traffic back-up during a funeral outside Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Stage Road in January.
“After sitting there a while we noticed we didn’t see any traffic coming across the highway. We couldn’t understand or know why we were being detained,” Winstead said.
He got out of his vehicle to question the church’s traffic officer.
“When I turned around, he screamed for me to get back in my car. I approached him and told him, ‘You gotta cut this traffic lose. You got them backed up down there,’” Winstead said.
He turned to leave, and motioned for other cars to move forward.
“When I turned around, the black male chest bumped me and threw an elbow at my head,” he said.
Winstead said he was dragged to the back of the church by three men.
“The next thing I know, they are running me across the highway. I realized one individual had a hold of me now, has a hand on my arm and collar on back of my shirt,” he said.
He says his wife and son came looking for him and also became victims.
“My wife comes down the hallway and she says, ‘I am going to call 911.’ There wasn’t anybody close to her and when she said that one of the men assaulted her, threw her against the wall and handcuffed her,” he said.
On the 911 call made by his wife, it’s clear things were out of control.
“Let go of me. Let go of me. He grabbed my neck. Stop!” says the voice on the tape.
Winstead says a man in a suit showed up. It was Oak Grove’s Associate Pastor, Joedae Jenkins.
“I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘I’m the Associate Pastor.’ When he identified himself, I said, ‘Call the police.’ He said, ‘That is not necessary,’” said Winstead.
Winstead said he and his wife were held against their will, and their possessions taken without any explanation.
His son called 911 too.
“They arrested my dad! The church arrested my dad! They are hitting him and beating him. Who is beating him? What church are you at?” the voices on the 911 call say.
A paramedic’s report says when medics arrived, Winstead was in an isolated room in handcuffs.
Two people in the room said paramedics weren’t needed, there were no injuries, but Winstead said he wanted treatment.
An off-duty sheriff’s deputy, later identified as Overton Wright, said he had the scene under control.
According to the paramedic, it clearly was not.
And the police report tells a very different story.
Security officer Christopher Edgeston told police Winstead chest bumped him. So he wrestled him down, put him in handcuffs and escorted him to the back of the church.
Associate Pastor Joedae Jenkins wouldn’t go on camera but told News Channel 3 Winstead and his wife were out of control and had they stayed in their vehicle, none of this would have happened.
He said security acted appropriately.
In fact, News Channel 3 discovered security is a common sight outside Oak Grove Baptist on Highway 64.
In our video, security guards can be seen blocking an entire lane of traffic on a Wednesday night, but there were no vehicles going in or out of the church.
Winstead wants to know why he was detained and what gives security the right to control traffic off church grounds.
Memphis Police tell us churches can get a special permit to close down lanes, but police must be present. Otherwise private security is restricted to private property.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department looked into the case after Winstead filed a complaint and decided Deputy Wright didn’t violate procedures. Case closed.
It’s not closed for Winstead.
He’s talking to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office about a violation of his civil rights.
“I think it was racially motivated. I think if it had been a black guy who walked up and asked the question, it would have never happened,” Winstead said.
James Winstead maintains the traffic officers went overboard.
Until they admit it, he is pursuing charges, so what happened to his family won’t happen to others.