BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – An Alabama high school band director said he was just “doing my job” when police officers arrested him and shocked him with a stun gun after he refused to immediately stop the band as it played in the bleachers following a football game.
The Alabama Education Association (AEA) hosted a press conference Wednesday to discuss the arrest of Minor High School Band Director Johnny Mims.
“The things that happened in that game should’ve never happened,” Mims said. “I was not trying to be defiant to the police department, I was just trying to do my job.”
Mims, a member of the AEA, was shocked by a Birmingham Police Department officer after a football game on Thursday, Sept. 14. When asked by officers to make the band stop playing, Mims instructed his band to keep performing.
A verbal and physical altercation ensued, during which a BPD officer used a stun gun on him. At the press conference, Mims called the tasing “excessive.”
Mims was later arrested on warrants for disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest.
During the press conference, Mims said that it was agreed upon beforehand that the band would play three songs after the game as a part of a “fifth quarter.”
Police body camera footage released Monday shows Mims being arrested and repeatedly shocked in a chaotic scene that included students screaming.
“I definitely don’t want us to lose sight of the students who were caught in the middle of this,” Mims said.
In the body camera footage, officers are seen approaching Mims as the band plays in the stands. They ask him several times to stop the performance, saying it is time for everyone to leave the stadium since the game was over, and appear incredulous that Mims continues directing the band for another two minutes or so.
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 stadium lights are cut off shortly before the band finishes.
Mims said after the song ended that he was pulled from the conductor’s stand. Officers are seen in the video apparently trying to arrest him, in a scrum of bodies. Students in the 145-member band can be heard screaming as the arrest plays out.
When asked how his wife and children were handling the situation, Mims said, “It’s heartbreaking. It’s traumatizing. It’s difficult.”
Mims is represented by attorney Juandalynn Givan, who helped arrange Wednesday’s press conference alongside AEA’s legal department. Givan said that she is currently reviewing all bodycam footage and plans to release videos that have not yet been made public.
Police said in a statement Friday that officers decided to take Mims into custody after the confrontation. They said Mims refused to put his hands behind his back and that the arresting officer said he was pushed by the band director, which led to the use of the stun gun. Mims was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and harassment.
Mims said he didn’t push or hit any of the officers.
“You will see that my client never struck or never attempted to strike an officer,” state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, who is Mims’ attorney, said during a Wednesday news conference.
Mims and the officers who approached him are Black. Both high schools have majority Black student bodies. “This wouldn’t have happened in Mountain Brook. This wouldn’t have happened in Hoover. And everyone in this room knows that,” Givan said, referring to affluent majority-white cities in the Birmingham area.
Mims said he is currently on administrative leave from the school system. The Alabama Education Association, which represents teachers and other public school employees, said it was asking the school system to let Mims return to work.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.