SPPF: Video does not provide 'complete context' - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

SPPF: Video does not provide 'complete context'

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The St. Paul Police Federation released a statement on Thursday that says the video footage which sparked an internal review of an officer "does not provide complete context," saying it doesn't show why the officer felt threatened and kicked a man on the ground.

A video uploaded to YouTube showed the Aug. 28 arrest of 30-year-old Eric Hightower, who was charged with stalking, making terroristic threats, and property damage on Thursday.

The footage was captured by an onlooker, and it shows St. Paul Police Officer Jesse Zilge kick Hightower while he was laying on the ground, coughing. Footage also shows Zilge punch Hightower while walking him to the squad car. He would later hold Hightower's head against the hood and pull his hair while Hightower asked why he was being arrested.

The statement released Thursday acknowledges that the St. Paul Police Department has launched a thorough review of the arrest, but the statement continued to say investigators believe the facts will show Zilge was in danger.

Critics of Zilge's actions point out that video shows Hightower lying on the ground and coughing when he was kicked, and Hightower was handcuffed with two officers directing him to the squad car when he was punched.

The cameraman claimed Hightower was coughing from mace, saying Zilge had gotten out of his car and used both mace and a Taser on Hightower without provocation. That, however, was not caught on video.

The statement acknowledges that the uploaded recording shows images and audio from the scene, but it says officers have their own official video from the squad.

The statement did not elaborate on what the squad video contains, saying only that the human brain perceives things differently in a moment of stress than a video recording could convey.

The department concluded by asking the community to let the facts emerge before making a judgement on the content on the video; however, the details of the arrest were not mentioned in the charging documents filed against Hightower on Thursday.

The full statement from the St. Paul Police Federation can be read below:

The St. Paul Police Department has begun a thorough review of the August 28 arrest of Eric Hightower. 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.

The video footage captured by an onlooker does not provide complete context of the incident and by no means demonstrates how the officer perceived the threat at hand. Although this video was taken by a third party - the Saint Paul Police Department's own official video advisory for squad recorded footage is relevant, stating:

"This recording depicts visual and audio information from the scene. However, the human brain, working through the lens of the human eye, is highly likely to perceive some things differently during stressful situations than a camera records them. This recording may not reflect how the involved officer actually perceived or documented the event."

As we go through this investigation, we encourage the community and its leaders to pause and let the facts emerge before rushing to judgment. Members of the Saint Paul Police Federation take pride in keeping our City safe, and by all accounts do a wonderful job.

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