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The St. Paul police chief has placed a second officer on leave amid an investigation prompted by a video that shows a suspect being kicked while on the ground and then slammed onto the hood of a squad car, police said Friday, Aug. 31.
Officer Matthew Gorans has been disciplined in the past for using excessive force and was once named in a lawsuit filed by a man who was injured in a confrontation with police. The city settled the suit for about $250,000.
On Wednesday, officer Jesse Zilge was placed on administrative leave after he was identified as the officer shown in a video kicking Eric Hightower during his arrest Tuesday in the city's North End.
Zilge and another officer, who was not identified by police, also are seen slamming Hightower's face into the hood of a squad car.
A friend of Hightower captured the arrest on video, and another friend put it on YouTube on Wednesday.
Police would not disclose whether Gorans is seen in the video or what information led to his paid leave. The other 12 officers who responded to the arrest remain on active duty.
An internal affairs investigation was under way.
The Ramsey County attorney's office charged Hightower, 30, of St. Paul, with aggravated stalking, terroristic threats and fourth-degree criminal damage to property in the case that prompted his arrest Tuesday. He is alleged to have threatened his former girlfriend.
Hightower was released from jail Thursday on $35,000 bond and plans to plead not
guilty, his attorney said.
The NAACP's St. Paul Chapter and other groups plan a news conference at 11 a.m. Saturday at the site of Hightower's arrest to "address the community's concerns about what happened and to make sure the community is aware that we're going to do everything within our power to make sure ... justice is done," said local NAACP President Jeff Martin.
St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus has encouraged people not to rush to judgment. He said the video "does not provide complete context of the incident and by no means demonstrates how the officer perceived the threat at hand."
In regard to the departmental review, Titus said, "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."
Zilge joined the St. Paul police department in 2008 and Gorans in 2009. Police chief Smith suspended Gorans for three days in a Sept. 26, 2010, case, according to his personnel file, but more information wasn't available Friday. That is the same date that Anthony Michael Clark Jr., then 25, was injured by the officers, according to his lawsuit.
The complaint names Gorans and nine other officers, but doesn't spell out his alleged role. The city settled the suit with Clark after the individual officers were dismissed from the suit.
The incident occurred at the Station 4 bar in Lowertown.
After bar staff and two officers had confronted Clark's fiancee over a glass of water they mistakenly believed she threw, one officer clubbed Clark with a flashlight, the civil complaint said.
Officers formed a circle around Clark "to punch, kick and hammer his head with their flashlight," the complaint continued. Another officer emptied a can of chemical irritant into his face and eyes at "point-blank-range," the complaint said. Another officer "repeatedly attempted to stomp on Mr. Clark's testicles."
The city council approved the $249,000 settlement in April.
The only discipline listed in Zilge's St. Paul police personnel file is an oral reprimand in 2009 for improper procedure. The department has not provided more details about that case.
Zilge's file lists seven commendations. Gorans has two.
Before he came to St. Paul, Zilge was a St. Paul Park police officer from August 2005 to March 2008.
He received a written reprimand and probation extension in March 2006 for a policy violation. More information was unavailable Friday. He also got a letter of commendation in July 2007.
Zilge started his career as a Newport police officer, said the department's retired chief, Veid Muiznieks.
So one of the cops cost the city $249,000, got away with assaulting someone and still kept his job. What a nice police force.