YouTube video claiming St. Paul police brutality prompts probe - New York News

YouTube video claiming St. Paul police brutality prompts probe

Posted: Updated:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The St. Paul Police Department has begun conducting an internal investigation after a video on YouTube captured footage of an officer kicking a man who was on the ground.

The 5-minute video begins with Eric Hightower laying on the ground, asking St. Paul Police Officer Jesse Zilge why he is being arrested. For the next 30 seconds, Hightower repeatedly asks what is going on.

"An assault on who? I don't have a warrant for my arrest," he told the officer.

Shortly thereafter, a voice behind the camera accuses the officer of using mace and a Taser on the Hightower without provocation.

"He just pulled up on us, jumped out the car and maced him," the man said.

After about a minute, Hightower starts coughing, presumably from the mace. That's when Zilge can be seen kicking Hightower before putting him in handcuffs.

Soon, another officer comes over to help, but a struggle begins as they are begin to walk Hightower to the squad, and Zilge is then seen punching Hightower in the head before throwing him over the hood of the car.

"I didn't do nothing wrong," Hightower protested.

From then on, Zilge kept holding Hightower by the hair, pulling his head back a few times before they a swarm of officers arrived in the area while Hightower was put in the back seat of the marked squad car.

Garrison Gibson told FOX 9 News he took his own cell phone video of the arrest from the park across the street, which was filled with kids at the time. He said he feels Zilge clearly crossed the line.

"When he was laying on the ground trying to breathe, how is that resisting? When you kick him, there's no need for that," Gibson said.

St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith told FOX 9 News he learned of the video on Wednesday morning and immediately ordered an internal investigation.

"I am here to tell you I am taking this very seriously," he said.

Zilge has been placed on paid administrative leave while internal investigators try to find out what happened both before and after the cameras were rolling.

"The video raised concerns for me about what happened," Smith said, adding that no outside complaint has yet been filed. "I want to assure the public we'll find out exactly what happened."

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