BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Police body camera video shows an Alabama high school band director being shocked with a stun gun and arrested by officers in front of screaming students, in a chaotic scuffle that broke out after he refused to immediately stop the band as it played in the bleachers following a football game.
State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, who is representing band director Johnny Mims as his attorney, said Tuesday that the incident is an “alarming abuse of power” that instead “should have been should have been deescalated.”
The Birmingham Police Department said it remains under investigation but the band director resisted arrest and allegedly pushed an officer.
The altercation erupted after the game last Thursday between Minor and Jackson-Olin high schools.
In the body camera video released by police Monday night, officers are seen approaching Mims, the band director at Minor, as the band plays in the stands. They ask him several times to stop the band and clear the stadium. Mims continues to direct the band and replies to the officer, "Get out of my face."
“We're fixing to go,” he continues. “This is their last song.”
As the music continues, an officer tells Mims he will go to jail. and another says she will contact the school. Mims flashes two thumbs up and says, “That's cool.”
“Put him in handcuffs,” an officer is later heard saying.
The video shows that the band played for about two minutes after officers approached Mims.
After the music stops, officers are seen on the video apparently trying to arrest him, in a scrum of bodies. One says Mims swung at an officer and must go to jail, and Mims denies doing so. An officer then shocks Mims with a stun gun.
Students — more than 140 were present, according to Givan — are heard screaming in the night as the arrest plays out.
Police said Friday in a statement that Mims refused to put his hands behind his back and the arresting officer said he was pushed by the band director, which led to the use of the stun gun.
Givan said Tuesday that she is not going to debate “whether my client was right or my client was wrong” but said officers “should have never drawn their Taser.”
Givan, who is a graduate of Minor High School, said Birmingham has a high homicide rate “yet you've got law enforcement officers at a darn kids' game that would attack my client excessively and abuse him in front of kids.”
Officer Truman Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the department, said Mims was charged with disorderly conduct, physical harassment and resisting arrest. The police chief has met with with the mayor and the superintendents of the two school systems, Fitzgerald said.
Also Tuesday, city Mayor Randall L. Woodfin announced the formation of a civilian-led Public Safety Advisory Committee, though his office said it had been in development for some time and was not related to the incident at the football game.