Arizona professor’s jaywalking arrest quickly gets out of hand

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(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.

Ersula Ore“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.

CNN’s Mesrop Najarian contributed to this report.

8 comments

    • Carmz

      How is a PROFESSOR a Hood Rat Stupid ???!! These cops think they are above the law you wouldnt say that if it was your raggedy mama !~!!

  • ean12967

    There simply is NO law anywhere in this country that says you must provide ID of any kind. In fact, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this. This woman should challenge her arrest and then sue that police department into the dark ages.

    • Gadfly

      She was breaking the law. She was putting herself, and other drivers at risk by walking in the middle of the street. They had reason to ask for her ID. Are you saying that if you’re breaking the law, police have no right to ask for your ID or detain you in anyway? You’re just free to go on your way? I’m sure she’ll sue, and I hope she loses.

  • Irwin Fletcher

    Once again, it goes back to a simple rule, follow the officers instructions, don’t argue, if you disagree with what he or she has said, you file a complaint. Arguing will never win.
    You’re walking down the middle of a road, WRONG! The officer has to find out, are you drunk, on drugs, trying to commit suicide. If you get struck by a car, the officer will get questioned as to why he didn’t stop you from walking down the middle of the road. You kick an officer, WRONG! What makes you think kicking a police officer will say, “ok, I see your point, go ahead and go home. It will never happen.

  • Irwin Fletcher

    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?” I’m sure he doesn’t, but he probably doesn’t encounter many women walking down the middle of the road. What should he have said? “Excuse me Ma’am, I hate to disrupt your leisurely walk down the middle of the road, but would it be too much to ask for you to walk on the sidewalk? Pretty Please???”

Comments are closed.