ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A man shown being arrested in a controversial Youtube video involving two St. Paul Police officers has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from incidents with his ex-girlfriend.
Eric Hightower appeared before a Ramsey County courtroom Monday morning. He had been charged with aggravated stalking, making terroristic threats and fourth-degree criminal damage to property. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Hightower is accused of stalking and threatening his ex-girlfriend, according to court documents. She also told police he had threatened to kill her and had recently choked and beaten her.
Two officers who had originally arrested Hightower returned to work on Sept. 17. On Aug. 29, video surfaced online of Hightower being arrested near the intersection of Woodbridge and Milford Streets in St. Paul. The video shows that one of the officers appears to kick Hightower in the throat while he’s lying on the sidewalk. [NOTE: Linked video contains explicit language and violence.]
The incident report from police listed Jesse Zilge as the primary reporting officer and Steven Petron as the secondary reporting officer. Officer Zilge was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 29 while the department investigated the incident. Another cop, Officer Matthew Gorans, was placed on paid administrative leave two days later.
Hightower was reportedly arrested Sunday night at the Highway Motel on the 2100 block of 7th Street West for violating a restraining order. Officers arrived on a report of a fight in a motel room where a woman could be heard screaming. When officers knocked on the door of the room, Hightower allegedly jumped out of a second story window in the back of the room. He injured his leg as a result and had to be transported to the hospital.
Police said Hightower jumped out the window because he had an active order for protection against him.