Tim Garner, an Atlanta-based teacher resigned and faced felony criminal charges after allegedly assaulting a 17-year-old student in 2017. Over the weekend, video of the troubling assault surfaced online by local Atlanta station WSB-TV 2. In the video, you can see Garner grabbing the student by the throat and then slamming him onto a table in the school’s cafeteria.
The incident occurred at Lumpkin County Alternative School, which is a school for students who have had issues at other schools within the Lumpkin County school district.
The 61-year-old Garner says that he was acting in self-defense and he says he does not regret putting his hands on the student’s neck.
“I was in fear of a head-butt or something like that or carrying something,” Garner said. When asked if he justified his actions by WSB-TV Channel 2’s Michael Seiden, Garner simply replied, “Absolutely.” He continued to discuss his actions, saying:
“He didn’t say anything until he put his hand on me and when he did that, I reacted. He was right up on me and when he did that,” Garner said. “The next thing, I just wanted to control his hitting hand. He’s right hand dominant and that’s all he hits with. I’ve never seen him throw a punch with his left hand.”
The attorney for the student, who has been identified as Zack Tumlin, issued the following statement:
“Coach Garner’s assertions that my client is a troubled and violent youth is absurd, as is the assertion that my client initiated any contact with him. The truth of the matter, as the video clearly shows, is that Coach Garner decided to subdue and choke a child for almost 50 seconds as a method of exercising discretionary discipline for a minor infraction in the lunchroom. We expect Coach Garner to be held accountable and take responsibility for his lapse in judgment, and for the School District to do the right thing in settling the civil claims that will follow the criminal prosecution.”
Garner says the altercation began when he asked the student to clean up a mess in the cafeteria. Garner described the student as a “troubled teen with a violent past,” which shows preconceived notions about how the student would respond.
The video clearly shows Garner as the aggressor and he continues to control the student by the throat for nearly one minute. That type of excessive force should never be tolerated. Immediately after Garner releases the student’s throat, Tumlin moves towards the exit and tries to leave the area where Garner continues to stand in his path.
Garner was arrested on charges of first-degree cruelty to children and simple battery. His bond was set for $7,700. If convicted of simple battery, which is a felony charge in Georgia, Garner would face a sentence of five to 20-years in prison.