Black community leaders in St. Paul, Minnesota, are criticizing local police after the violent arrest of a stalking suspect surfaced on YouTube.
Authorities charged 30-year-old Eric R. Hightower on Thursday with aggravated stalking, terroristic threats and property damage against his ex-girlfriend following his arrest on Tuesday, during which an officer was filmed kicking him and then, with another officer, slamming him head-first onto the hood of a police car.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a group of representatives from local civic groups and churches denounced the use of “street justice” in Hightower’s arrest and asked residents to report similar encounters to prove it wasn’t an isolated incident.
“If that video hadn’t been taken, would we even know Eric Hightower’s name? “said Jeffry Martin, president of the St. Paul chapter of the NAACP.
The video starts after Hightower is laying on the ground, with Officer Jesse Zilge standing over him. Hightower shouts, “What are you arresting me for?” The unidentified person filming the video says Zilge pulled up and maced him.
Then, as Hightower is coughing away from Zilge, Zilge can clearly be seen kicking him in the chest. CNN reports that Zilge has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Seconds later, as Zilge is placing Hightower’s arms behind his back to handcuff him, Zilge tells an off-camera witness he had beat up a woman.
“I ain’t even been around here!” Hightower answers, angrily. “You’re f-cking lying!”
Then, as Zilge and an unidentified second officer are pulling Hightower to his feet, Hightower curses at him again, at which point the two officers slam him onto the hood of the patrol car. The second officer has also been placed on administrative leave, though authorities did not release his name.
The president of the St. Paul Police Federation, the union representing Zilge, released a statement saying the video doesn’t tell the whole story behind Hightower or his arrest.
“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,” Dave Titus said in the statement. “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.”
Authorities told CNN St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith ordered an investigation into the incident after he “found that the video images raised questions about use of force.”
Hightower is currently free on $35,000 bail. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 14 for separate felony assault and drug possession charges.
The footage of Hightower’s arrest, posted on YouTube earlier this week, can be seen below.
‘I did my job’: Lt. Col Vindman fends off Jim Jordan’s disrespectful attack on his service
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a national security aide, pushed back on suggestions made by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that he failed to do his job correctly when he reported President Donald Trump's alleged attempted bribery of Ukraine's president.
At a House impeachment hearing, Jordan asked Vindman why he had gone to a attorney for an advice on Trump's behavior after he was unable to report it to a supervisor.
"You not only didn't go to your boss... you went straight to your lawyer," Jordan said.
"I did my core function, which is coordination," Vindman explained. "I spoke to the appropriate people within the inner-agency and then circling back around, [my attorney] told me not to talk to anybody."
Eric Swalwell debunks Elise Stefanik’s entire defense of Trump in just 15 seconds
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on Tuesday quickly took apart Rep. Elise Stefanik's (R-NY) defense of President Donald Trump during public impeachment hearings.
While questioning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Stefanik made a point of emphasizing delivering military aid to Ukraine requires ensuring that the country is working to root out corruption.
"You testified that you understood that Congress had passed, under the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative, a legal obligation to certify that corruption is being addressed?" she asked Vindman.
"That is correct," he replied.
"So for the public listening, we are not just talking about President Trump focusing on anti-corruption in Ukraine," she said. "But it is so critical, so important that when hard-earned taxpayer dollars are given to foreign nations that, by law, overwhelmingly bipartisan support requires anti-corruption in Ukraine in order to get U.S. taxpayer-funded aid."
Vindman blows up Jim Jordan’s smear of his service by reading glowing performance review
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Tuesday shut down an attempt by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to question his service to his country by reading a glowing performance review given to him by former National Security Council staffer Fiona Hill.
During his questioning, Jordan quoted testimony from fellow impeachment inquiry witness Tim Morrison, who said he "had concerns about Lt. Col. Vindman's judgment" and said those concerns were also shared by Hill.
Jordan asked Vindman why his colleagues would question his judgement -- and the lieutenant colonel proceeded to read directly from Hill's final performance review of his work.