(NEW YORK) — Johnny Mims, a band director at Minor High School in Alabama, is accusing Birmingham police of using excessive force against him after he was shocked with a stun gun three times after officers say he refused to comply with orders while they attempted to clear the field.
In an interview with ABC News’ DeMarco Morgan that aired on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Mims accused police of using “excessive force” in the incident that took place on Sept. 14 and said that he feared for his life.
“I didn’t deserve to be tased. I didn’t deserve to be tased, regardless of how people say it or how people feel about it. I never deserved that. I’m a good citizen,” Mims told GMA.
“I was on the ground. So to go and tase me twice or three times … that’s excessive,” he added. “I’m a band director. I’m the bus driver. So I wasn’t I wasn’t running … I can’t go nowhere. I got students that I’m accountable for.”
The incident occurred at P.D. Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham during “fifth quarter” — a tradition that originates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities where school bands face off, taking turns to play music after a football game comes to an end.
“It is a big cultural thing that happens amongst bands. Something that everybody looks forward to,” Mims said.
“A large proportion of our fans come just to see the bands and so it’s something that’s not uncustomary,” he added.
Mims said that bands from both schools each agreed to play three tunes during fifth quarter and during the third song is when police approached him as he stood on the podium and asked the band to vacate the stadium. Mims said that he told them they would leave after the band finished its last song.
Body camera footage released by BPD shows officers attempting to clear the stadium following the game and as they approach Mims and ask him to tell the band to stop the music, he repeatedly says, “Get out of my face.”
“Cut it! We got to go,” a sergeant says.
“I know. We’re fixing to go. This is our last song,” Mims says in response.
After an officer says something to the effect of Mims going to jail, Mims gives a thumbs up and says, “That’s cool.”
The band continues to play as officers order them to leave, and the sergeant yells to put Mims in handcuffs.
While attempting to handcuff the director after the band stopped performing, an officer can be heard saying, “I’m fixing to tase you.”
Another officer says, “He hit the officer, he got to go to jail.”
“I did not swing on the officer, man,” Mims says in response.
While attempting to detain Mims, an officer deployed his stun gun on him three times, the video shows.
Birmingham Fire and Rescue personnel treated Mims at the scene before officers transported him to a local hospital, per police protocol.
Upon being discharged, Mims was booked at the Birmingham City Jail on disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest charges early Friday. He was bonded out within hours, online jail records show. Police allege Mims refused to place his hands behind his back and pushed an officer during the altercation.
Mims’ attorney, Juandalynn Givan, told GMA that her office plans to take legal action against the city of Birmingham and called for officers involved to be placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
Asked if any of the officers have been disciplined, a spokesperson for the Birmingham Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division told ABC News on Tuesday that an investigation is ongoing.
“I want these charges dropped against my client. His reputation has been impacted. They have impugned his character,” Givan said. “We want justice for our client and we want his voice to be heard. We want him respected and we want an apology from the city of Birmingham.”
Mims told GMA that as an educator, he is concerned about the impact the experience had had on the students, including the 145 band members that he was leading.
“To hear those kids cry … [that] is the most heartbreaking thing that anybody can ever experience,” Mims said.
“My biggest prayer is that first of all, that these students will not hold a grudge that they will be able to overcome this – that they would one day be able to move forward and continue to be the great people that they are,” he added.
According to BPD, Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond met with the Birmingham mayor and superintendents from both school districts regarding the incident.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin told ABC News that they are reviewing the video, adding that it is “extremely upsetting to me that our students, our children, had to witness that scene.”
Consoulin said that he can’t comment further amid the ongoing investigation but added that counselors have been made available to students.
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