Alabama school band director hit with stun gun, arrested after refusing to end performance: Police

ByMelissa Alonso and Caroll Alvarado, CNNWire
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Band director arrested after high school football game speaks out
Johnny Mims was tased at least three times by a Birmingham Police Department officer after he refused orders to cut Minor High School's band performance and leave the stadium after a game last week.

A band director was shocked with a stun gun and arrested after he disregarded police requests to stop his band's performance following a high school football game, according to a Birmingham Police Department spokesperson.

The incident happened Thursday following a win by Minor High School at PD Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, said police. Birmingham police officers started clearing out the stadium when the game ended and noticed "both schools' bands still performing," said spokesperson Truman Fitzgerald in a statement.

Officers spoke with both band directors and asked them to stop playing music "so students and attendees would leave the stadium," said the statement.

The home team band stopped playing when asked, but Minor's band director, Johnny Mims, did not stop and "instructed his band to continue performing," according to Birmingham police.

A band director was shocked with a stun gun and arrested after he disregarded police requests to stop his band's performance following a high school football game, according to Birmingham police.

"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 video released by Birmingham police shows multiple officers telling Mims to end the performance while the band director repeats "get out of my face."

"We're fixing to go. This is our last song," Mims then tells the officers.

When one officer threatens, "You will go to jail," Mims responds with a thumbs-up and says, "That's cool."

The stadium's field lights are then turned off and the band concludes its song. When Mims steps off the platform, a struggle ensues between him and the officers as they appear to try to handcuff him while 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."

Mims is then heard replying he "did not swing on the officer" as the struggle continues.

Seconds later, an officer uses a Taser on Mims, bringing him to the ground as panicked screams are heard from the crowd around him.

"The arresting officer alleges the band director pushed him during the arrest," the police statement says. "The arresting officer then subdued the band director with a Taser which ended the physical confrontation."

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A video that surfaced online also shows the moment Mims was tased by the arresting officer, Mims' attorney, Juandalynn Givan, told CNN. Givan is also a state representative.

In the video, several onlookers are seen standing around the altercation between Mims and the officers, which resulted in some pushing and shoving. The arresting officer, who was standing across from Mims, is then seen pulling out a Taser and uses it on him.

Another video shows Mims and police officers tussling but it's unclear if the video was taken before or after Mims was tased.

"This incident is an alarming abuse of power and a clear violation of our client's civil rights," Givan said in a statement shared with 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."

Givan added they plan to pursue legal action against the police department.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue treated Mims at the scene and police then transported him to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. After his release, police said officers took him to the Birmingham City Jail, where he was booked and later bonded out.

Officers obtained arrest warrants for disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest, police said.

The Birmingham Police Department's "Internal Affairs Division investigates all incidents where an officer uses force during an arrest," said the police statement.

"We are aware of the incident that occurred after the Minor and Jackson-Olin football game," said Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin in a statement to CNN affiliate WBRC. "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."

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, and he has a master's degree in music education from Florida State University.

"This is a bit much, to tase a gentleman with a stellar reputation" in front of students and parents at a football game, Givan said.

CNN has reached out to the Jefferson County School District directly for comment.

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