Tempe, AZ- Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore is challenging an aggravated assault charge against her after a stop for jaywalking turned into a violent encounter with campus police.
Last month, Ore was confronted by ASU campus police officer Stewart Ferrin as she was walking across a street near the university on her way home. Ferrin told Ore that she was jaywalking, and asked her to provide identification. Ore attempted to explain to Ferrin that she was walking in the street to avoid nearby road construction.
“I’ve been here for over three years and everybody walks this street… I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus,” Ore said. She disagreed with Ferrin for being stopped in the first place, explaining “everybody has been doing this because it is all obstructed. That’s the reason why. But you stop me in the middle of the street to pull me over and ask me, ‘Do you know what this is? This is a street.'” Ferrin informed her that she would be arrested if she failed to produce ID.
The video footage above, released last Friday, contains about two minutes of the off-camera audio interaction between Ore and Ferrin before Ferrin began roughly handling Ore and subsequently throwing her onto the pavement.
“Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID,” Ferrin said.
“Are you serious?” Ore asked.
“Yes, I’m serious. That is the law. If you don’t understand the law, I’m explaining the law to you,” replied Ferrin. “I have no problem abiding by the law, but all I’m asking do you have to speak to me in such a disrespectful manner,” Ore then said to Ferrin.
“OK, put your hands behind your back,” Ferrin ordered Ore. The video shows Ore struggling against the officer before he threw her onto the ground and pinned her. After she was handcuffed by Ferrin and an additional officer, Ore kicked Ferrin in the leg.
Ore’s attorney, Alane Roby, explained that when she was pinned on the ground, “she was exposed, told officer she was exposed. Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. And after what had already happened, she felt uncomfortable with hands going there.”
911 dispatchers received a call from a witness who described the incident as “a police officer who’s getting way too aggressive with a young lady on the street.”
Ore is arguing self-defense against the stemming aggravated assault charge. “I wasn’t given an opportunity to actually give ID. I mean, I was never asked what my name was. I was never told what I was in violation of. It was immediately ‘Do you know the difference between a street and a sidewalk?’ And then he gets out the car. He throws the car door open actually is what happens. And he’s just towering over me. He’s intimidating. He is…I don’t know why he’s so aggressive,” Ore told CNN.
ASU issued a statement about the incident:
“According to the police report, ASU Police initially spoke to Assistant Professor Ore because officers patrolling the area nearly hit her with their police vehicle as they turned the vehicle onto College Avenue to investigate a disabled vehicle. Officer Stewart Ferrin had no intention of citing or arresting Ore, but for her safety told her to walk on the sidewalk. When Ore refused to comply and refused to provide identification after she was asked for it multiple times, she was subsequently arrested.”
ASU also issued a statement regarding Ferrin’s actions:
“ASU authorities have reviewed the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the arrest of Assistant Professor Ersula Ore and have found that the officer involved did not violate protocol and no evidence was found of racial motivation by the ASU Police Department officers involved. However, the ASU Police Department is enlisting an outside law-enforcement agency to conduct an independent review on whether excessive force was used and if there was any racial motivation by the officers involved.”