LUMPKIN COUNTY, GA (WSB/CNN) - Prosecutors say a former teacher crossed the line when he grabbed a student by his throat while dragging him down a table in the school cafeteria.
The 2017 incident was caught on surveillance video inside Lumpkin Mountain Education Charter High School, an alternative school in Georgia for students who have gotten in trouble at other schools in the district.
It resulted in felony charges against the teacher, Tim Garner. The 61-year-old claims he acted in self-defense and has no regrets for his actions.
"I was in fear of a headbutt or something like that or carrying something," Garner said.
He said the altercation began after he asked the 17-year-old student, whom he described as a troubled teen with a violent past, to clean up the mess he made in the cafeteria.
In the video, you can see the student and two others messing around with a styrofoam box, passing it back and forth. Then, Garner stood up and asked the other students to exit the cafeteria.
But when that 17-year-old tries to leave, that's when the confrontation took place.
“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, I put him back because I didn't want to get hit,” Garner explained. "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."
Late Friday night, the attorney for that student released a statement which that said, in part:
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.
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