Surveillance video of a Lumpkin County high school teacher allegedly grabbing a student by his throat, throwing him onto a cafeteria table and dragging him along the table was obtained by Channel 2 Action News on Friday.
The incident happened in April 2017 at Lumpkin County Alternative School in Dahlonega and involved former teacher and coach Tim Michael Garner, Channel 2 reported.
The school, which is for students who have gotten into trouble at other schools in the district, met during the day at Mountain Education Charter High School when the schools shared the facility.
Garner, who faces felony charges for this incident, told Channel 2 his actions were justified, since the student made a mess in the cafeteria, didn’t listen and got aggressive, forcing him to get physical.
“I was in fear of a head-butt or something like that or (the student) carrying something,” Garner, who was fired after the incident, told the news station.
Channel 2 reported the incident started with the 17-year-old student “flipping a Styrofoam tray between two tables and getting food all over the place.”
Garner, who is now 61 years old, described the student as a troubled teen with a violent past, the news station reported. The surveillance video shows the teen attempt to leave the cafeteria, and then Garner said the student initiated contact.
“He didn’t say anything until he put his hand on me, and when he did that, I reacted,” Garner said. “He was right up on me, and when he did that ... I just wanted to control his hitting hand. He’s right hand dominant, and that’s all he hits with.”
The student’s attorney sent a statement to the news station that said:
“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.”
Garner’s attorney told the news station he will head to court Tuesday, when he will attempt to get the charges against his client dismissed because he said the evidence shows his client acted in self-defense.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Tim Michael Garner was a teacher at Mountain Education Charter High School when this incident occurred. He was a teacher and coach for the Lumpkin County Alternative School, which at the time shared facilities with Mountain Education Charter High School.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.