Victim of alleged St. Paul police brutality charged with threats - KMSP-TV

Victim of alleged St. Paul police brutality charged with threatening ex-girlfriend

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Charges of stalking, terroristic threats and property damage were filed Thursday against the victim of alleged police brutality in St. Paul that was captured on video and posted to YouTube.

Eric Ronnell Hightower, 30, is accused of calling, harassing and threatening his 20-year-old ex-girlfriend over the past few days.

The woman told police Hightower was the father of a baby she gave birth to this summer, which died within hours of the birth. She said he has been hostile and violent with her ever since the baby's death, to the point she moved to a different address to sever their relationship.

On Friday, Aug. 24, Hightower's ex-girlfriend's called 911 around 9:51 p.m., as Hightower had found her new address and was breaking out the windows of the home. That incident was followed by more harassing calls and a message telling her she was about to get her "head blown off."

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the woman called 911 again to tell police they could find him hanging out at Lewis Park near Woodbridge Street and Milford Street. Hightower was arrested near the park that evening, but the charges against him make no mention of the incident captured on video.

That five-minute video, which St. Paul police are investigating internally, 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 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.

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

"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."

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.

Hightower told police he and his ex-girlfriend have not gotten along since their baby's death, and says he was only trying to scare her. He said he tries to agitate her so she will call him.

Hightower pled guilty in July to third-degree assault for an incident involving another man. He also has a conviction for violating an order for protection in 2007.

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