2nd officer on leave after videotaped arrest
By AMY FORLITI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A second St. Paul police officer was put on paid administrative leave as authorities continued to investigate the arrest of a man who was kicked by another officer in an incident captured on video, police said Friday.
Police said the second officer was put on leave after they discovered new information during their internal investigation into Tuesday's arrest of Eric Hightower, who is accused of threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend. Hightower, 30, of St. Paul, was charged Thursday with stalking, making terroristic threats and criminal damage to property.
Police did not identify the second officer in a news release, nor did they give details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show that the second officer on leave is Matthew Gorans. Records also show he was put on leave Thursday, joined the department as a trainee in 2009 and was suspended for three days in 2010 after being accused of excessive force.
Tuesday's arrest was recorded by a citizen and the video was posted to YouTube. The AP was not able to immediately confirm whether Gorans is in the recording. Police records show 14 officers responded to the arrest.
Police Chief Tom Smith identified the officer who kicked Hightower as Jesse Zilge, who was placed on leave Wednesday.
The video shows Zilge kicking Hightower once in the chest when Hightower was lying on the ground and coughing after he had been sprayed with a chemical irritant. Zilge then handcuffs Hightower, drags him to his feet and, with the assistance of another officer, slams Hightower's head onto the hood of a squad car.
Zilge and Gorans could not be reached for comment Friday, and phone numbers for both were disconnected.
St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus had no comment Friday, but said Thursday that the video doesn't show the entire context of what happened or "how the officer perceived the threat at hand."
Titus encouraged the public and community leaders to let the facts emerge before rushing to judgment. He said once the investigation is complete, "we believe the facts will show that a good cop was in a dangerous situation with a known dangerous individual."
In 2010, Anthony Michael Clark Jr., filed a lawsuit claiming Gorans was among several officers who chased Clark, then punched, kicked and beat him with flashlights after an incident at a St. Paul bar, according to court records. Police had claimed Clark had pushed an officer and lunged at police. The city settled with Clark this year for nearly $250,000.