University professor’s jaywalking arrest quickly gets out of hand

ersula(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 teaching classes at Arizona State University ended with police charging the professor with assault.

Here’s what’s not disputed: the English professor was walking in the middle of a Tempe, Arizona, street one evening last month when a police officer stopped her.

What followed was an interaction that was anything but routine.

In a dashboard camera recording released Friday, Ore steadfastly questions the officer 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,” Ferrin 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 did not satisfy, and Ferrin begins to cuff the professor.

“Don’t touch me,” Ore says as her voice begins 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?”

The officer responds: “I don’t care what you’re wearing.”

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. 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.

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 wrote in a statement to CNN, adding that they maintain any actions Ore took were done 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.

The incident has drawn headlines from 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-à-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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18 comments

  • Jeremy Little

    Seems to me from the description I read above that the professor was being unreasonably resistant to a perfectly valid set of questions and earned what she got.

    The litmus test is this: If race were never mentioned how would you feel about the officer and the defendant? In this case, it is clear the professor is in the wrong.

  • MG

    One earns respect, over a period of time, by their good behavior. No one gets my respect up front.

    If you disagree with what the officer is telling you, than let a judge sort it out later. Until then, follow the orders of the Officer.or be cited and or arrested for resisting. This is civilized society, not the law of the streets.

    • Adam

      Jaywalking was the reason for the initial contact. The lady having the attitude and refusing to give up an ID was the main issue at hand. She did this because she already had the race card out and ready to thrown it around!

  • Terry Roberts

    For the most part, she is in the wrong, but the officer seemed to be making a power play and a gestapo act. He could have handled it very much different especially for a jaywalking offense. He also could have called for back up and maybe a new face would have helped. No, she is not innocent, but it is still a lot pushy to throw someone over the hood for jaywalking when other help could have brought in.

    • Adam

      If you watched the video, there is back up. And a power play??? Come on, if your kids refused to give you something, what would you do? Spank them? Put them in time out? Well its what this lady got, she’s just made because it was in public. Yes, the reference is far-fetched but still relevant due to the professor’s “behavior.” I would not want my kids to have her as an educator in anything other than “What not to do – 101″

  • Tom Griffin

    And people wonder where the kids of today get their respect. I don’t know both sides but I tell everyone I know to say Yes SIR AND NO SIR. and or YES OFFICER OR NO OFFICER. EVEN CHILDREN KNOW ENOUGH TO CROSS AT THE CORNERS AND NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOCK.

  • Ted Tred Spence

    So why is it almost always a racial incident when someone is told what to do, and they don’t comply? I have been asked for I.D. several times in my life, and never responded with my mouth. I just gave them what they asked for. No attitude, no lip, just complied. On a side note, I think her just doing what they asked, could have avoided the whole mess. But hey, what do I know? I am just the bottom of the barrel by today’s standards, an old white male…

  • JTC

    It may sound petty in regards to the jaywalking offense..but if theyve had problems / citizen complaints filed about people jaywalking in that area then theyd probably be more proactive with enforcing it..

  • Dan

    Seriously? Show your ID as asked and there us not a problem. People wonder why they are judged. Thus us another typical black female that feels like she can disrespect anyone and everyone. I’m tired of the African Americans pulling the race card. She’s a Professor? Wouldn’t want her as my instructor-how does she treat her students? Shame on her and charge her with everything applicable under the law. 80 percent of the prison system us populated with African Americans and this Lady’s response towards an officer of the law is exactly why that statistic is there. Be a responsible grown up and have respect or go yo jail !!

  • Tricia

    I find it extremely convenient that we see only the video from where the situation had already escalated. Before judging this woman we need to see the entire incident from the very beginning. We completely missed the part where she explained that she walked in the street to avoid construction. I am not at all calling this racially motivated. What I see is and hear is an officer who is exerting more power than is necessary. This is happening way more often in recent years to all different walks people who should have been treated in a much calmer manner yet instead officers acting in ways resulting in situations that escalate to the point of no return.