ASU professor talks to CNN about arrest

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by Kristine Harrington

azfamily.com

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 9:47 PM

(CNN) -- A jaywalking rarely makes national news, but the arrest of Arizona professor Ersula Ore has done just that.

What began as a walk home from classes at Arizona State University ended with police charging the professor with assault.

The English professor was walking in the middle of a Tempe, Arizona, street one evening last month when a campus police officer stopped her. The incident escalated, and she was handcuffed and landed on the pavement.

Appearing Monday on CNN's "New Day," Ore was asked about her own words and actions in the incident and replied, "I think I did what I was supposed to do. I was respectful. I asked for clarification. I asked to be treated with respect, and that was it."

In a dashboard camera recording released Friday, Ore steadfastly questions officer Stewart Ferrin and asks him to be respectful.

The two talk over each other as the situation escalates, with Ferrin threatening to arrest Ore unless she produces her ID.

"If you don't understand the law, I'm explaining the law to you," the officer says. "The reason I'm talking to you right now is because you are walking in the middle of the street."

Ore explains that she walked in the street to avoid construction.

"I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location," she says.

The explanation does not satisfy, and Ferrin begins to cuff the professor.

"Don't touch me," Ore says, her voice beginning to rise. "Get your hands off me."

The officer warns her to put her hands behind her back, or "I'm going to slam you" on the police car.

"You really want to do that?" Ore asks. "Do you see what I'm wearing?"

Ferrin responds, "I don't care what you're wearing." She kicks the officer.

Shortly, Ore is on the ground. Her lawyer, Alane M. Roby, says the action caused her dress to ride up, "exposing her anatomy to all onlookers."

Ore faces charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, failing to provide ID and obstructing a public thoroughfare. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The university said it found "no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved."
Given the "underlying criminal charges," the university declined to provide any more details.

Monday on "New Day," Ore said the incident started when the officer stopped his car next to her and asked whether she knew the difference between a road and a sidewalk.

She said she asked him, "Do you always accost women in the middle of the road and speak to them with such disrespect and so rudely as you did to me?"

She said that at no point did he ask her name or tell her why she was being questioned.

"He throws the car door open actually, is what happens, and he's towering over me," she said. "He's intimidating. I don't know why he's so aggressive."

Roby said they'll fight the charges and accused the officer of escalating the situation in violation of his training.

"Professor Ore's one crime that evening was to demand respect that she deserves as a productive, educated and tax paying member of society," Roby said in a statement to CNN, adding that they maintain any actions Ore took were in self-defense.

That includes the caught-on-camera kick she delivered to the officer's shin.

"She can clearly be heard on the dash can video instructing the officer not to grab toward her genital area prior to him reaching for her in attempt to pull her skirt down over her exposed private area," Roby wrote.

When asked on "New Day" about kicking the officer, Ore said she'd been advised by her lawyer not to comment.

The incident has made headlines as far away as Iran and England. Closer to home, her department at the university has asked for a thorough investigation, including "an audit on the conduct of its police force vis-a-vis racial profiling."

The university said it has completed one investigation. If evidence of officer wrongdoing surfaces, it said, an additional inquiry will be conducted and appropriate measures taken.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- An Arizona State University professor who was arrested by campus police last month is claiming self-defense, and the incident is getting a whole lot more attention now that 3TV has obtained video of it.

“The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you are walking in the middle of the street,” Officer Stewart Ferrin said to ASU professor Dr. Ersula Ore after stopping her near campus. She was crossing College Avenue, just south of Fifth Street.

Click here to view the raw video

Video released in arrest of ASU professor

But in less than a minute, the conversation quickly began to escalate.

“Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID,” Ferrin said.

“Are you serious?” Ore asked.

“Yes, I am serious. That is the law,” Ferrin replied.

According to police reports, Ore said she was trying to cross College Avenue in the same fashion as several others trying to avoid construction.

“I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location. Everybody has been doing this because it is all obstructed. That’s the reason why,” Ore said to the officer. “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.' ”

“Are you aware that this is a street?” Ferrin asked.

“Let me finish,” Ore said.

“OK, put your hands behind your back,” Ferrin said.

“Don't touch me,” Ore said. “Get your hands off me.”

Seconds later, things escalated even further.

“Put your hand behind your back. I’m going to slam you on this car. Put your hand behind your back,” Ferrin said.

“You really want to do that? Do you see what I’m wearing? Do you see?” Ore said.

She was wearing a black dress and after being "slammed" onto the car, she was wrestled to the ground. Her dress hiked up and her body was exposed.

While both Ore and Ferrin suffered some minor injuries, Ore was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer in addition to criminal damage and obstructing a thoroughfare. She intends to fight the charges.

Ore's attorney, Alane Roby, says Ore is claiming self-defense.

"She was exposed, told officer she was exposed," Roby said of her client while she was on the ground. "Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. She felt uncomfortable with hands going there."

Professor Ore is an English professor whose research interests include cultural studies, according to ASU's website.

ASU released this statement to 3TV:

“ASU authorities have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the arrest and have found no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved. Should such evidence be discovered, an additional, thorough inquiry will be conducted and appropriate actions taken.

"Because the underlying criminal charges are pending, there is not much more we can say at this time. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has 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.”

Dr. Ersula Ore on CNN

"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."

"I'd ask giving the right away..do you wanna go, can I go, is it ok, no response. so I just continued doing what I was doing which was crossing the street and at that moment was when he threw on the lights and that's when i knew it was a cop car and then he accosted me and he blocked my passage way to continue crossing the street. I ended up in the middle of the street because i was stopped in the middle of the street."

Statement from ASU Sunday night:

"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."

ASU professor accused of kicking police officer

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