ST. PAUL NOTES | St. Paul police: Kick a man when he's down

UPDATE 9/1: A St. Paul police department press release said a second, unidentified, officer has been suspended and that an investigation is ongoing.

"He done sprayed him, maced him, tased him. He just pulled up on us, jumped out the car and maced him ... Ain't done nothing, we ain't done a damned thing." That's the voice of someone near the Android phone as it records video footage of a St. Paul police officer kicking a man in the chest as the man lay on the sidewalk. The incident occurred August 28 and the video was posted on YouTube on August 29. 

The video continues, showing more police arriving, and officers slamming the head of the man, now handcuffed, on the hood of a squad car. 

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Eric Ronnell Hightower, age 30, was arrested about 6 p.m. on Tuesday near Lewis Park at Woodbridge and Milford streets. That's in St. Paul's Norrth End neighborhood, west of Rice Street and north of Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The Pioneer Press story includes an interview with Hightower, now out of jail, and with several eyewitnesses, including children who watched the whole event, as well as details of Hightower's 2011 conviction on drugs and assault charges. 

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith have promised investigations of the officers' conduct. Jesse Zilge, the officer shown kicking Hightower on the video, has been placed on paid administrative leave. 

KARE 11 News has the story of the man who created the video, an auto mechanics student named Lord Stitts: 

"Stitts says he was walking with his best friend Eric Hightower Tuesday evening when a police car drove across the grass through Lewis Park.  'That's when he pulled up, jumped out with his Mace in his hand and just walked up Macing.'"

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    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (maryturck [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist, and former editor of the TC Daily Planet.

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    The Rule Book

    Always wonder when I read these stories "what does the rule book say?"  Let's say you see a known violent offender that you need to apprehend (happens).  He doesn't run so you're lucky enough to get close.  Do you have to tell them to hit the dirt?  Do you, if you follow force rules, have to TRY a nonviolent approach?  I fully understand there are people out there with damaged brains who can't listen to reason, but should a person in uniform assume a violent response?  They never get around to tell you that.  I'd like to have some people who police rough neighborhoods explain what harm there is to a nonviolent arrest if it can be done.  I'm not on either side, I'm only on the side of reason.