An Alabama school band director was tasered by police officers after he refused to stop his band’s performance, in what his lawyer has called an “alarming abuse of power”.
The incident unfolded following a football game between Minor High School and PD Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.
Birmingham Police said that officers noticed both schools’ bands still playing after the game finished and asked both groups to stop playing music “so students and attendees would leave the stadium”.
While the home team’s band complied with the request, Minor High School band director Johnny Mims did not and “instructed his band to continue performing,” police said.
A physical altercation is said to have ensued, with officers tasering and then arresting Mr Mims.
“BPD officers attempted to take the band director into custody for Disorderly Conduct when a physical altercation ensued between the band director, Birmingham City Schools System personnel, and BPD officers,” said the statement.
Bodycam footage released by police shows Mr Mims telling officers “get out of my face” after they asked him to stop performing.
“We’re fixing to go. This is our last song,” Mr Mims then tells the officers.
An officer is then heard telling Mr Mims “you will go to jail,” to which he responds with a thumbs up. “That’s cool,” he says.
The band then stops playing its song and Mr Mims steps off the stage before a struggle ensues between him and the officers as they appear to try to handcuff him and he yells “get off of me”.
“He hit the officer. He gotta go to jail,” one officer is heard saying. “He swing on the officer.”
Mr Mims is then heard saying he “did not swing on the officer” seconds before he is tasered by police and brought to the ground.
In a statement, police said Mr Mims allegedly pushed an officer during his arrest.
“The arresting officer then subdued the band director with a taser which ended the physical confrontation,” the statement continued.
Mr Mims was treated at the scene and taken to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.
Following his release from hospital, he was arrested for disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest.
Mr Mims’ attorney Juandalynn Givan slammed the officers’ actions.
“This incident is an alarming abuse of power and a clear violation of our client’s civil rights,” he told CNN.
“It is unacceptable for law enforcement to engage in home rule in the field of play or with regard to band activities unless there is a significant threat to the safety of the general public.”
He added that “this is a bit much, to tase a gentleman with a stellar reputation” in front of students and parents at a football game.
Mr Givan said his client plans to pursue legal action against the police department.
Mr Mims joined the Minor High School band in 2018 after teaching high school band in Florida for about a decade, according to the school’s website. He has a master’s degree in music education from Florida State University.
Jefferson County Schools superintendent Walter Gonsoulin told WBRC he was aware of the incident.
“I am in the process of gathering all the facts, and feel it would be inappropriate to comment further until that process is complete. I urge everyone not to jump to conclusions,” he said.
Birmingham Police Department said that its Internal Affairs Division investigates all incidents where an officer uses force during an arrest.