2nd St. Paul police officer on leave over Hightower arrest - FOX 35 News Orlando

2nd St. Paul police officer on leave in alleged police brutality

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

A second St. Paul police officer has been placed on administrative leave after new information surfaced in an internal investigation into the Tuesday, Aug. 28 arrest of Eric Hightower.

Hightower is charged with stalking, making terroristic threats and property damage for a string of disturbances involving his ex-girlfriend.

The arrest had led to public scrutiny of St. Paul police after video posted to YouTube shows Officer Jesse Zilge kick Hightower while he was laying on the ground, coughing. Footage also shows Zilge punch Hightower while walking him to the squad car.

St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith found the video images raised questions about use of force and immediately ordered a thorough internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding all aspects of the arrest, from start to finish. Later that day, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

As the investigation proceeded, officials became aware of new information that Smith believed warranted placing a second officer on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The details of the new information will not be made available at this time, as the internal investigation is ongoing.

The St. Paul Police Federation released a statement on Thursday that says the video footage which sparked the internal review "does not provide complete context," saying it doesn't show why the officer felt threatened and kicked a man on the ground.

The statement acknowledges that the bystander's uploaded video shows images and audio from the scene, but it says officers have their own official video from the squad.

The full statement from the St. Paul Police Federation can be read below:

The St. Paul Police Department has begun a thorough review of the August 28 arrest of Eric Hightower. Once this process is complete, we believe the facts will show that a good cop was in a dangerous situation with a known dangerous individual.

The video footage captured by an onlooker does not provide complete context of the incident and by no means demonstrates how the officer perceived the threat at hand. Although this video was taken by a third party - the Saint Paul Police Department's own official video advisory for squad recorded footage is relevant, stating:

This recording depicts visual and audio information from the scene. However, the human brain, working through the lens of the human eye, is highly likely to perceive some things differently during stressful situations than a camera records them. This recording may not reflect how the involved officer actually perceived or documented the event.

As we go through this investigation, we encourage the community and its leaders to pause and let the facts emerge before rushing to judgment. Members of the Saint Paul Police Federation take pride in keeping our City safe, and by all accounts do a wonderful job.

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