ASU officer involved in professor's arrest linked to second controversial case

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:46 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 4:05 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. --- A recent Arizona State University graduate says he was treated unfairly by the same police officer involved in the controversial arrest of an ASU professor.

Jason Heckendorn, who graduated from ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business with a 4.0 GPA in May, is facing several felony charges stemming from an incident in November.

Heckendorn was in a mob of students rushing to get football tickets.  He says he was trying to help a friend get out of the crush of people.

"We were all pushed together like sardines, and I was basically trying to make sure she wasn't being trampled," Heckendorn told 3TV.

He says his actions were misunderstood by ASU Police Officer Stewart Ferrin.  A police report says Ferrin arrived to disperse the crowd and was "pushed twice" by Heckendorn, whom he later arrested.

"He grabbed me, and tried to throw me to the ground. I resisted being thrown to the ground.  I resisted being pushed by natural instinct," Heckendorn says.

"Jason, in his case, was trying to help someone. It was a misunderstanding," defense attorney Arja Shah told 3TV.

"Officer Ferrin has been connected to two aggressive circumstances.  It shows how situations can escalate very quickly, in an aggressive manner," she said.

The Maricopa County Attorney decided to move forward with charges against Heckendorn, including aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.   The case is in the court system.

ASU authorities are standing by Officer Ferrin.  The university's statement on the arrest of Professor Ersula Ore follows.

Video released in arrest of ASU professor

ASU STATEMENT:
 
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.
 
In addition, although no university police protocols were violated, university police are conducting a review of whether the officer involved could have avoided the confrontation that ensued.
 
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. 
 
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has independently reviewed all available evidence, including the police report, witness statements, and audio and video recordings of the incident, and decided to press criminal charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer, and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare. The charge of assaulting an officer is based on the fact that Dr. Ore kicked the officer as is shown on the video and as she admitted in her recorded statements to the police.

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