A high school band director in Alabama was shocked with a taser and arrested when he refused to direct his students to stop playing music after a football game last week, authorities said.
The band director, Johnny Mims, has retained a legal team that is pledging to take action against the Birmingham Police Department, which released body camera footage of the incident on Tuesday.
Mims, who directs the band at Minor High School in Adamsville, a Birmingham suburb, led the band’s performance Thursday on the bleachers at P.D. Jackson-Olin High School, where both football teams had recently finished a game. Both the Minor and Jackson-Olin high school bands continued to play after the game in what is known as the “fifth quarter,” Juandalynn Givan, an attorney representing Mims, said in a statement to CBS News on Tuesday. The “fifth quarter” is a marching band tradition usually seen at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, where students continue to play music after a game ends.
Birmingham police officers told the band directors of both high schools to end their students’ performances while attempting to clear the stadium following the game, the Birmingham Police Department said in a news release Friday. Police said the Jackson-Olin band director complied with officers’ requests, but Mims did not.
In the body camera footage, which police said begins 18 minutes after the end of the football game, an officer wearing the camera crosses the football field and steps up onto the bleachers, where students are seen standing and playing music.
When the officer addresses Mims, he continues to conduct the band. “Get out of my face,” he tells the officer several times.
“I’ve got my troops coming,” the officer says. The officer then instructs Mims to stop the students playing and tells Mims, “You will go to jail,” to which Mims replies, “That’s cool.”
Another woman in the video gives similar instructions to Mims to stop the band and warns that she will call the superintendent.
Footage shows the scene quickly devolve. The stadium lights turn off as an altercation ensues between Mims and at least two police officers, one of whom is wearing the camera. People crowd around them and many are heard screaming. Officers physically restrain Mims and are in the process of handcuffing him when one says, “He hit the officer, he got to go to jail.” Mims denies hitting the officer.
While being ordered to put his hands behind his back, Mims is shocked once with a taser. In annotated text included in the body camera video, Birmingham police wrote that the first attempt to shock Mims was “ineffective.” Moments later, Mims is shocked again with a taser for a more prolonged period.
Mims was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct, physical harassment and resisting arrest, according to police. His attorney said Tuesday that Mims’ legal team will investigate the incident, along with the Alabama Education Association, and intends to take legal action against the Birmingham Police Department.
“The objective is not only to seek damages for the pain and suffering endured by the band director, but also to shed light on the systemic issues within law enforcement and advocate for change,” Givan said in the statement, calling the incident “an alarming abuse of power and a clear violation of our client’s civil rights.”
“These matters should be addressed by school district administrators or other leaders with expertise to de-escalate situations like this,” the attorney’s statement continued. “I am asking the Mayor of Birmingham and the Chief of Police to place all officers involved on administrative leave until further investigation. We will not rest until justice is served and those responsible are held accountable. This case highlights the urgent need for police reform, training and the protection of every citizen’s rights.”