St. Paul police brutality: Officer Jesse Zilge maces, kicks, punches helpless suspect [VIDEO]

Categories: Police, St. Paul
st paul police brutality rect.jpg
Officer Jesse Zilge and a colleague slammed Hightower's head into a squad's hood.
:: UPDATE :: Eric Hightower, St. Paul police brutality victim, allegedly threatened to blow ex's head off

SEE ALSO:
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-- VIDEO: Was peaceful Occupy activist arrested in downtown Mpls just for filming police?


Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening, Eric Hightower was walking with friends to Lewis Park in St. Paul's North End. Near the intersection of Woodbridge and Milford streets, he was approached by an officer in a squad car. The officer, exiting his squad, demanded that Hightower and his buddies hit the ground.

"We all stopped and were like, 'What's going on? Why?'" Hightower told the Pioneer Press. Next thing he knew, he had been sprayed in the face with a chemical irritant, apparently for no reason. Then, while Hightower was lying on the sidewalk, the officer -- later identified as Jesse Zilge -- kicked him under the chin and continued to douse his face with mace.

The incident was caught on cell phone camera by one of Hightower's friends. Here's the footage:



As video of the brutal arrest scene circulated yesterday, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith held a press conference to announce that Zilge has been placed on paid administrative leave while an expedited internal affairs investigation takes place. Smith said the video raises "some serious concerns about the use of force of one of my officers."

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman echoed Smith in a statement.

"I grew up in St. Paul having full confidence in the St. Paul Police Department," Coleman said. "I have high expectations for the department and its employees. We will fully investigate and take appropriate action."

But St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus insists there was more to the incident than what can be seen in the video and took umbrage at Smith and Coleman leaping to conclusions.
eric hightower.jpg
Hightower was booked into jail after being roughed up, but hasn't yet been charged with a crime.

"This cop was dealing with a very dangerous individual in a very dangerous situation," Titus told the PiPress. "Back-up was not immediately available. And maybe our officials shouldn't make comments about their concern until the investigation has run its course."

"This is a good cop," Titus said, adding that more details would emerge during the course of the police department's investigation.

Hightower, 30, was arrested on suspicion of making terroristic threats, obstructing legal process, and criminal damage to property. According to St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla, before the brutality incident, police received a tip that Hightower had threatened to kill an acquaintance. He hasn't yet been charged with a crime.

Hightower says he was also mistreated in jail, where he was left suffering with impaired hearing, bloodshot eyes, irritated skin, and no pants (police, for some reason, took them, leaving him in boxers). He told the PiPress he banged on a holding cell's door, repeatedly asking, "Please, can someone help me?" until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Later in the day yesterday, Hightower was still feeling the effects of Zilge's beatdown.

"I can't even hear anything out of my right ear," he told the PiPress. "My whole right side of my face is completely numb, my skin is irritated."



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33 comments
Jaleen
Jaleen

Why are the community leaders not gathering to support the poor woman who was beaten by Hightower? I'm not excusing the cops' behavior, but isn't it about time that African American men stand up and protect their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters??

jackie612
jackie612

Ummm, didn't see him resisting.  Force should be used when one does, but not after he has submitted, and is laying on the ground coughing and spitting up mace.  Say what you want, you'll only waste your breath on me.  Is this behavior something you would condone in your child? Is this the type of message the world should be receiving. He was not resisting anything when he was kicked and repeatedly maced.  He was down. Period. Don't need to see what went on before that, I saw what went on then. Would you go back and kick your kid for something he did ten minutes ago? I gotta wonder where your head is at....

zig6928
zig6928

I'm not a cop.  Nor am I defending the police officer.  I am simply stating that if you have been charged with a crime and you resist arrest you may get maced kicked and abused in ways that will be very uncomfortable.  Not to mention a new charge....resisting arrest. 

jackie612
jackie612

I don't expect much more from those expected to hold up the moral code.  I mean look at the progression of society.  When a group of 3rd graders can walk down the street calling each other mother f...ers and we can watch brutal rapes, murders, nudity and words like bitch and asshole on afternoon and prime time REGULAR television, I hate to see where this world is in another 20 years.  It just disheartens me to see that this so called cop is what I have to use for a moral compass.

zig6928
zig6928

Interesting....he wasn't in cuffs.  To say it didn't matter what he did before he got kicked is ridiculous.  When your told to put your hands behind your back by a police officer, put your hands behind your back, keep your mouth shut and call a lawyer when you get down to the police station. 

jackie612
jackie612

What happened to innocent until proven guilty? The sad part is that nothing will come of this.  The booking sheriffs have been violently abusing people in custody for years and those who can do something about it turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the vile insults they spew.  St Paul police is not 'infamous' for being violent, trigger happy maybe, but not thugs. More and more over the last 5 years, I hear of how they abuse the people they arrest, either verbally, or physically.  I've seen their bruises first hand. Lets not have a repeat of LA 1991.  This stuff spreads like wildfire thanks to social media. Yeah, like this won't end up on YouTube..Dont these cops know everyone has a phone these days, and they all come equipped with video cameras? Ughhhh. I guess intelligence is not a prereq... And really, one cop is off duty paid????? One? I don't know about anyone else but I saw at least 4 of them act highly inexcusably.  They no longer get paid to serve and to protect, but to abuse and berate. Call me cynical.  Oh yeah, @Bryan you are right, I don't give a rats behind about what he did before the video, because that would have been the time to use force if that was required, not while he is laying on the ground already defenseless, and injured from being sprayed in the face with what has to feel like acid.  HELLOOOOOOOO?!?!?!?! Do you hear yourself?

bikerbda1
bikerbda1

A few years back I stopped a white guy that was carrying an asian girl by the neck down Rice Street, when the police arrived and I told them the story they replied it's a domestic, to which the girl said I don't know him I've never met him. They didn't give two shits about this beautiful girl that almost had a night of misery and they let the guy go on his way. Before the guy left the scene I let him know they might not have taken it seriously but I will if I ever see you out here again. These old white pricks couldn't care less about doing their job. 

yh8it
yh8it

Because you lose your rights whenever you do something bad. Bryan, you're an idiot. 

BrokenSystem
BrokenSystem

Good Point about the jail. It doesn't matter what you did. If you they don't like you you're definitely mistreated in jail. Ring that buzzer all you want, pound on the door, they'll leave you freezing in that jail cell with no blanket or clothes for well past the due process. Doesn't matter though. Rights don't matter anymore in this country. That's apparent in the video. Police kicking people in the face and slamming their head on the car, that seems to be ok now for them to do. He'll be just like Clifford. Let it wait out until it blows over, nothing happens and they're back on the streets again. Thugs with badges.

Bryan Corbett
Bryan Corbett

@alicia read the updated story. Stand up for our rights! Way to go!

Bryan Corbett
Bryan Corbett

So this guy threatens to blow his ex's head off, and you people are all taking his side. See you generalize my take on this situation as always taking the cops side. That is not the case. I merely stated that maybe you should get all the facts first. I did admit that he probably should not have kicked him in the face. I love this debate, it is the same every time. @ cynthia olson seriously?! he probably beat his wife?! talk about making up absolute nonsense. Because of a 5 minute video @Cliff If I was surrounded by people yelling and taunting and I was alone I would be a little on edge too and maybe do something I shouldn't. Who knows?!

Alicia Wendlandt
Alicia Wendlandt

It's police brutality, it doesn't matter what the suspect did beforehand.

Alicia Wendlandt
Alicia Wendlandt

There are a few details people should note: after the cop kicks him in the face, he looks up and smiles at the people watching. As the suspect is being led to the car, the cop throws another hook and punches him in the face while in handcuffs.

Cliff Orange
Cliff Orange

@Bryan, yes, they do just pull up and arrest/harass people. It has happened for more than our lifetimes and continues to happen on a regular basis. And it doesn't matter at this point, what he did before the video was started. At this point, he had been maced, was on the ground, the "officer" had his tazer out and his gun, back up was on the way and there was no resisting. So whatever threats or actions this guy said/committed have nothing to do with the excessive force he used, just to do it. One kick is too many! It's too bad that guys like this make police/civilian relations hard to mend. There are good cops out there, but far too many cops are doing a great job of showing the communities how horrible a person they are while wearing a police uniform. Shut up.

Leticia Moreno
Leticia Moreno

I cant get over how he gets REWARDED for this by GETTING PAID while on Administrative Leave during the investigation!!!! Appaling!! And he sure did have some balls kicking him when all thise people were around. What an idiot! There sure are some d*ck cops out there.

Joseph Drizzle
Joseph Drizzle

It sounds like he really didnt do ANYTHING before the video started but lay down and get abused. If this was a video of one civillian kicking another civillian on the ground i dont think anyone would give them the benefit of the doubt, but because its a cop you just say "Oh, its OK, I'm sure he had a good reason" Its because of people with your mentality that CROOKED people in positions of power will NEVER be held accountable, because soon as something happens you small minded people just go into idiot mode and make excuses for these scumbags. Is anyone surprised that the leader of their police federation comes out and says "This is a good cop"? Well if kicking someone in the face and macing them when your on the ground is a good cop then I dont even know what the fuck to say. Another paid vacation for a fucking bully.

Bryan Corbett
Bryan Corbett

it is not like he sat there and kicked him repeatedly in the face.

Bryan Corbett
Bryan Corbett

you know what is funny? none of you care what this guy did before the video started recording. maybe he used too much force with the officer. I am pretty sure St Paul Police Officers don't just pull up and arrest people for fun. The kick in the face went a bit far, but if he threatened to kill someone and was being forceful he has it coming to him.

Cynthia Olson
Cynthia Olson

While I believe the police have a VERY dangerous job, there are those who just love to throw their weight around and it sure appears that Zilge is one of those jerks. I'm sorry to hear he's off with pay. He probably beats his wife if he has one.

William Davis
William Davis

Wow another juiced up, alpha male "come at me bro" cop.. Are these guys getting worse or is it just me?

Meg Nathan
Meg Nathan

There is NO excuse for kicking a man who is in handcuffs and on the ground! This officer needs to be disciplined - firmly and promptly. Send a message that this kind of brutality is WRONG, no matter what!

Meg Nathan
Meg Nathan

There is NO excuse for kicking a man who is in handcuffs and on the ground! This officer needs to be disciplined - firmly and promptly. Send a message that this kind of brutality is WRONG, no matter what!

Amy Feagler
Amy Feagler

He was already on the ground for effs sake!

Amy Feagler
Amy Feagler

He was already on the ground for effs sake!

Amy Feagler
Amy Feagler

He was already on the ground for effs sake!

junka
junka

 @Jaleen Probably because they are blinded by their own motives.

 

zig6928
zig6928

 @jackie612

 Where my head is at?  You are comparing this to kicking my kid?   He was told to put his hands behind his back 5 times...if he didn't and it sure looks like he is waving his arms around yelling at his friends, He is considered resisting arrest.  That is a legal fact, weather or not you see it that way.  Maced once, maybe, repeatedly?  I must of missed it.  Yes, I would punish my "kid" for something he did ten minutes or ten days ago.  If he threatens to blow off your head, call the cops on him.

pariscarruthers
pariscarruthers

 @zig6928

 @zig6928 YOUR A FUCKEN ASSHOLE...FUCK THE POLICE AND EVERYTHING YOU GUYS STAND FOR...YOU GUYS TAKE YOUR AUTHORITY TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. YOUR SUPPOSE TO BE AROUND TO PROTECT AND SERVE! NOT TO HARASS AND ABUSE!! THERE WAS NO REASON FOR ANY OF THAT TO GO DOWN. THE SAD PART IS YOUR SITTING AT HOME LAUGHING WATCHING THIS. THE SHIT IS SAD AND SICK. AND ANY ONE WHO THINKS THAT SHIT WAS OKAY NEEDS TO GO AND BURN IN HELL....FUCK THE FUCKEN POLICE WITH A SICK DICK!

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