ST. PAUL, Minn. - In response to media inquiries, St. Paul police, on Tuesday, released squad car video of the controversial arrest of a St. Paul man last year.
Bystander video of the August 2012 arrest of Eric Hightower was posted on YouTube shortly after the arrest raising protests.
Hightower, 31, was arrested for allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend the previous night. During the arrest by Officer Jesse Zilge, Zilge is seen kicking Hightower, who is lying on his side on the ground.
After Zilge handcuffs Hightower behind his back, Officer Matthew Goran comes into the picture. The two officers get Hightower to his feet, then slam him onto the hood of Zilge's squad car.
In the video from Zilge's squad car released Tuesday, Hightower seems reluctant to get into the backseat as ordered.
"What am I being arrested for?" Hightower is heard demanding. "I ain't did nothing wrong."
Goran goes around to the other side of the squad and gets into the backseat, pulling Hightower in, first by his shirt, then by his hair.
As someone yells "Get your feet in there!" Goran is seen appearing to use pepper spray on the side of Hightower's head.
"He's sprayin' me in my ear! Sir! My ear! My ear! My eye! Please!," yells Hightower.
He continues to protest for several minutes on the tape, later with some profanity, as he is driven to the police station.
The Olmstead County investigated the case, since it would be a conflict for Ramsey County. Prosecutors determined that no charges should be filed against either officer.
St. Paul Police conducted their own Internal Affairs Investigation. Reportedly, Police Chief Thomas Smith decided to fire Goran and suspend Zilge for 30 days. The Police Federation is protesting the actions and the release of the police video.
"It is the Federation's position that the city releasing video and photographic evidence gathered following the Hightower arrest violates state law, specifically Minnesota Statute section 626.89, the Peace Officers Discipline Procedures Act."
The statement said "Any member of the public, viewing the video or the pictures out of context ... could easily draw false conclusions about what occurred."
The statement defended the two officers.
"The officers in the Hightower arrest acted within policy and pursuant to their training. Our members were dealing with a known dangerous individual who refused to follow directives, at a time when very dangerous conditions posed a threat to officer safety."
The statement concluded: "The Federation will take any necessary and appropriate action to protect their rights."
The St. Paul Police Department declined any comment, citing the actions as a personnel matter.
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