An Arizona State University professor is facing felony charges after authorities allege she assaulted an officer during a confrontation with police. But newly released video of the incident has raised concerns about the officers’ behavior.
ASU police officer Stewart Ferrin claims he stopped Dr. Ersula Ore for illegally crossing the street. When he accosted the professor she pointed to nearby construction and informed officers that she crossed in the middle of the street because of the roadwork—like several others. Officer Ferrin then asked for her ID and threatened to arrest Ore if she didn’t produce it, that’s when things quickly escalated and the entire confrontation was caught on tape.
“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 told 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?” the officer asked Ore.
“Let me finish,” she replied.
“OK, put your hands behind your back,” Officer Ferrin said.
After Ore refused to be handcuffed the situation got worse. Officer Ferrin slammed her to the ground, causing her dress to rise up and her body to be exposed. When he picked her up off the ground, her skirt was hiked up, and as the officer reached toward it, Ore kicked him.
Ore’s lawyer, Alane Roby, said the professor was acting in self-defense.
“She was exposed, told officer she was exposed,” Roby said. “Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. She felt uncomfortable with hands going there.”
ASU released a statement saying the officers’ actions were justified.
“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.”
Ore was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal damage, and obstructing a thoroughfare.