Florida Police Disturb Church Service To Take Pastor’s Grandchild In Custody Dispute

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Florida Police Disturb Church Service To Take Pastor’s Grandchild In Custody Dispute

“The officer was questioned several times by members of the church — and continued to wait for the pastor,” Alexander said.

Darling then made an attempt to contact the child’s grandfather, Tellis, inside the church, as depicted in the Facebook video. And that’s what has Tellis — and some supporters in his church and on social media — angry.

“I respect that they have a job to do, but the way they went about it was wrong,” Tellis said. “The police had no authority to violate the sanctity of a worship service.”

However, according to Alexander, any church that is incorporated in the state of Florida is incorporated as a public place.

“We certainly respect the fact that it’s a church, but we also respect the fact that lots of times we have to respond to churches because there are problems,” Alexander said. “(The father) asked for help today and we were trying to resolve this thing in the most peaceful way possible.

“The pastor was aware of the court order and at some point had communicated that if the officers came for the child, he would surrender the child. However, that did not take place, and this turned out to be a long, drawn-out issue between him and his son-in-law.”

Sgt. Demetrius Stallworth, Darling’s supervisor, arrived at the church shortly after Darling’s first attempt to contact the grandparents inside the church. After being pressed again, Tellis asked if the child could stay for communion before leaving with her father, according to a press release.

The daughter was placed in the custody of her father and left the church with him after the service.

Tellis felt that officer Darling was overzealous in her attempt to bring the child out of the church, and would have elicited a much calmer reaction had she simply waited until the end of the services to return the girl to her father.

“I respect the law, but you have to respect people’s religious freedom — I think it could have been handled differently,” Tellis said.

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