Tim Garner, 61, was charged with first-degree child cruelty and simple battery after reportedly attacking an unidentified student at Lumpkin County Alternative School in Georgia over a year and a half ago. He was fired after the assault. The Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office released a video of the altercation on Friday, according to Raw Story.
The incident began when Garner asked the then-17-year-old student to tidy up a mess he had made from passing a Styrofoam box back and forth with fellow students. Garner asked all the other students to leave the room, but stopped that teen from exiting.
"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."
In a recent interview with WSB-TV, Garner says he doesn't regret his actions, which were made in self-defense.
"I was in fear of a head-butt or something like that or carrying something," Garner said.
"I don't know if you have children yourself, but when you look at that video, do you justify your actions?" reporter Michael Seiden asked.
"Absolutely," Garner replied, also adding that the victim had a violent past.
However, according to the victim's attorney, Zack Tumlin, the teacher's claims are absurd.
"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," Tumlin said in a statement, Raw Story reported Monday.
"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," Tumlin continued.
"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," he added.