Man kicked by police officer charged with stalking

6:45 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - The man who was caught on video being kicked by a St. Paul police officer has been charged with felony stalking.

A criminal complaint issued Thursday details aggravated stalking, terroristic threats and criminal damage to property charges filed against 30-year-old Eric Hightower.  

Investigators say that a 20-year-old woman called police on August 28 and told them that Hightower had been harassing and threatening her over several days time. The woman, Kara Drew told KARE 11 Hightower broke a bedroom window at her home on the 1600 block of Cohansey Street and threatened to kill her.

"At first I started feeling bad," she said after watching the controversial arrest on YouTube.  "But he's not a victim. I'm a victim every day I'm with him."

Hightower was the father of the victim's baby, a child who died shortly after birth earlier this summer. Drew says his threatening and abusive behavior had escalated after that time.

The arrest of Hightower is the subject of increasing public scrutiny after a witness videotaped a police officer delivering what appeared to be a violent kick to the suspect as he lay on the ground Tuesday night. Officer Jesse Zilgeand and another cop then appeared to slam Hightower's head into the hood of their police cruiser. 

A police spokesman says St. Paul Chief Thomas Smith immediately ordered an internal investigation after he saw the video, which was posted to YouTube on Wednesday.

Zilgeand has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is concluded.

Drew shared a cell phone message with KARE 11 in which she alleges Hightower called her moments before he was arrested. In the obscenity-laced message, the caller threatens to kill Drew.

"He called me 10 minutes before the police got there, threatening my life, telling me he was going to blow off my head," she said.

Hightower was released from jail early on Thursday evening on bond. He left the jail with his family, but did not have any comment about the arrest. 

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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