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Squad car footage of Eric Hightower's brutal arrest released; St. Paul cop reportedly fired [VIDEO]

In this still from the squad footage, Hightower screams for help after he was repeatedly pepper sprayed. His cries went unanswered.
In this still from the squad footage, Hightower screams for help after he was repeatedly pepper sprayed. His cries went unanswered.

The Pioneer Press recently obtained squad car footage of the brutal arrest of Eric Hightower last August 28.

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The footage shows St. Paul officer Matthew Gorans dragging Hightower into the squad by his hair, then pepper spraying him in the ear. Later, while Hightower is being driven to jail, officer Jesse Zilge ignores his repeated agonized pleas for someone to wipe his face. Medical personnel suspect Hightower suffered a punctured eardrum during the struggle.

Here's the footage (most of the action takes place around the one-minute mark):

The chain of events immediately preceding the squad footage was also controversial, as Zilge was videotaped macing, kicking, and punching Hightower while he lay helplessly on a sidewalk.

Hightower was being arrested on suspicion of domestic assault. He pleaded guilty in May.

Zilge and Gorans were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with the incident last November, but sources told the PiPress that following an internal investigation, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith decided to fire Gorans and suspend Zilge for 30 days. Gorans and Smith are appealing those disciplinary measures through the union grievance process.

Representatives of the police union told the PiPress the video shows the arrest "out of context and apart from the rest of the investigation."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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