September 21, 2023

Associated Press


An Alabama high school band director said Wednesday that 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.

Johnny Mims, the band director at Minor High School, told The Associated Press he was confused when officers pulled him from the director’s podium to arrest him following last Thursday’s game between Minor and Jackson-Olin high schools.

“I was in shock. Just totally confused because I was pretty much doing my job, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. I definitely did not deserve to be Tased,” Mims said by phone. Mims said police shocked him with the stun gun three times.

Police body camera footage released Monday shows Mims being arrested and repeatedly shocked in a chaotic scene that included students screaming. Police charged him with disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest.

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.

Mims said he was confused by what was happening. He said Wednesday that the two bands were doing what is sometimes called a fifth quarter show in which bands perform as attendees leave the stadium. He said he wasn’t trying to be defiant, but rather was attempting to wrap up the song.

“We were at the last half of our song,” he said.

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.

Category: Sports