Citizens Speak Out About Police Brutality in St. Paul

I would like to offer a standing ovation and thunderous THANK YOU to the gentleman who filmed this video. The quality is good, he calmly narrated what he was seeing, and he remained focused on the victim – Eric Hightower – despite what looks like one of the crowd control cops trying to block the cameraman’s view with his body around the 3:50 mark.

THANK YOU to Angela Hulbert, who according to the Star Tribune article, posted the video to YouTube, called the mayor’s office, sent the video to Internal Affairs and spoke with IA Wednesday morning.

The on-lookers complied with police orders, but they didn’t do so quietly. When the crowd protests Zilge’s treatment of Hightower, we can hear the cop yell “He beat up a woman last night. Calm down.” Which even if true, dear readers, in no way justifies the kicking, hair-pulling and slamming of Eric’s head into the police car.

Look at how many patrols were called to the area. Look at how many white police officers are present. Note how few black officers are present.

This video shows police brutality and contains strong language.

The text on the video posted on YouTube reads:

A police officer’s conduct while taking a suspect into custody has sparked allegations of police brutality. The incident occurred Tuesday in St. Paul, Minn., when Officer Jesse Zilge spotted 30-year-old Eric Hightower, who police were searching for after he allegedly threatened to kill an acquaintance. Hightower is seen lying on the ground after Zilge sprayed him with a chemical irritant. At one point, Zilge kicks him in the chest. Later, Zilge and another officer slam a handcuffed Hightower onto a squad car and also appear to pull his hair. Zilge was placed on administrative leave after an investigation was launched.

I don’t want a cop who behaves this way to be trusted to work with the public or interpreting how to enforce laws. I hope they fire Officer Zilge and charge him with assault. I hope the city of St. Paul pays damages to Eric Hightower for this city-enabled abuse of one of its citizens.

Citizens Speak Out About Police Brutality in St. Paul
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10 thoughts on “Citizens Speak Out About Police Brutality in St. Paul

  1. 1

    Thanks for the article! I saw this video via KARE 11’s website this morning, and was immediately shocked. Even at that moment, I thought and said on my own Facebook, that it really doesn’t matter what the circumstances were that led up to the beginning of the video, the actions by St Paul police thereafter were totally unacceptable and uncalled for. Thank goodness for the cool reaction of Stitts, who took the video and those responsible for making it public thereafter. It was only a short time ago that the public had little recourse to fight against these types of injustices, but now that we have that availability, we need more people like Stitts to be vigalent when witnessing these events.


  2. 4

    if anything, i suspect after reading all the posts Ed Brayton has on the subject, that the officer will get a slap on the wrist. maybe not even that.

    1. 4.1

      The person recording did not catch the entire incident. Zilge had no back up and Hightower was resisting arrest. Hightower also has a history of attacking police officers and is clearly bigger and no match for Zilge alone. If Zilge hadn’t taken neccessary action to protect himself he may have been harmed or even killed.

      1. I have no reason to doubt what you’re saying, and I’m not arguing about what happened before the video started. What the video shows is Eric Hightower laying on the ground and Zigle kicking him in the chest while he’s hacking his lungs out, slamming his head into the police car and yanking him around by his hair while they shove him into a police car. It seems an unnecessary use of force to further subdue a man who doesn’t appear to be resisting, even if he did start out resisting.

        1. The kick seems completely out of line. I don’t think it was a “brutal” kick as some have described it (I doubt it even caused a bruise), but I was just stunned by how gratuitous it seemed. It looked like the police officer just lost his temper and took out his frustration by kicking the guy, which is completely unacceptable. The only possible defense I could see is this was part of the procedure to get him to roll over, but it more looks like the officer kicking out of spite.

          On the other hand, the slam onto the car and hair-pulling seems to be directly in response to the arrestee jerking his body around as he’s being led to the car, as if he’s trying to break free. It doesn’t look pretty, but if you try to resist arrest, the police aren’t going to square off with you in a Greco-Roman wrestling match. They’re going to attempt to quickly get firm control over you so they can put you in the back of the car. If the guy had quietly gone into the car and they did that, it would be another story.

          So, yeah, we have what seems to be a blatantly unnecessary kick, which should be punished, but I don’t see much else wrong here. I think once many people see the kick though, from that point in the video everything the cops do is going to be seen in the worst light.

  3. 6

    @Brianna Bilyue in your article you said “Look at how many patrols were called to the area. Look at how many white police officers are present. Note how few black officers are present.”

    That is just plain ridiculous and you are only trying to stir things up by looking for some type of racial motive. Apparently you want police officers to request a race when calling for back up? Whoever is the closest and not responding to a different call are the ones that respond. For you to draw that conclusion is one of the reasons race will always be a problem here in the US. Until you can look at something that is happening between two different races and not throw in the race card then you will continue to contribute to the problem and stay biased in your articles. Try to be a part of the solution.

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