An Arizona State University professor who is facing charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest says that police used excessive force in slamming her to the ground during an encounter.
On May 20, Ersula Ore, an English professor, was stopped by university police near the ASU campus. Police said Ore was stopped because she was walking in the middle of the street and refused to provide ID, and that she later kicked an officer in the shin after they had her handcuffed, according to the Associated Press. Ore claimed she was walking in the street to get around construction.
Video released to KTVK (above) shows part of the exchange between Ferrin and Ore:
Ferrin: "Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID."
Ore: "Are you serious?"
Ferrin: "Yes, I am serious. That is the law."
In the video, Ore can be heard saying she has no problem following the law, but protesting that Ferrin is speaking to her in a disrespectful manner.
Ore: "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. 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: "Are you aware that this is a street?"
Ore: "Let me finish."
Ferrin: "OK, put your hands behind your back."
The officer appears to swing Ore in a circle before forcing her to the ground as Ore yells for the officer to stop touching her.
At least one person called 911 and said an officer was getting "way too aggressive" with Ore, according to a tape obtained by KTVK.
Ore was arrested and charged with 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.
(UPDATE: See below for ASU's statement to The Huffington Post.) The school said in a statement, "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."
The Arizona Ethnic Studies Network believes this incident may be connected to racial profiling, and is criticizing ASU for not undertaking a full investigation of the incident with Ore, who is black.
"In a state and metropolitan region in which racial profiling has been proven to be widespread, the ASU administration's lack of concern for the well-being of an ASU community member of color is unacceptable," the Arizona Ethnic Studies Network said in a statement.
Ore did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
A petition on MoveOn.org with more than 2,800 signatures is calling on campus police to drop the charges and issue an apology.
UPDATE, 9:49 p.m.: Although the university says there is no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved, it plans to review the incident further, according to a statement ASU provided to The Huffington Post:
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.