No Respect: A Prickly Professor's Violent Arrest by a Badge-Heavy Cop Brings Out the Bully in ASU
A still taken from video of Ersula Ore's arrest by ASU police officer Stewart Ferrin.
Don't expect any apology from Stewart Ferrin.
The former Arizona State University police officer regrets nothing about the way he handled the arrest last year of assistant professor Ersula Ore.
Not the way he threatened to slam her into his patrol car or how he arrested her for what many would call, at most, a jaywalking violation on a college-town side street.
You may have seen the viral video of Ore's May 20 takedown, filmed by the dash-cam in Ferrin's patrol car.
Since it first was aired by a local news station on June 27, hundreds of thousands of people have seen how Ore stood up for her perceived rights after getting confronted by Ferrin in the middle of College Avenue. With the hood of the patrol car as a prop, the black professor struggled with the white officer as he tried to handcuff her. He threw her to the ground. When she was cuffed and helped to her feet, she lashed out with a kick to Ferrin's shin.
"As police officers, we are reacting to what is presented to us," Ferrin, 25, says. "Her attitude set the tone. Her actions determined the outcome. I stand by my decisions that I made that night."
Ferrin's talking about the pivotal decisions that led to his national infamy as an overbearing, potentially racist cop. The damage to his career -- he'd dreamed of being a cop since boyhood -- may be irreparable.
Following notice by ASU that he was getting fired, Ferrin resigned on February 16. He'd been on paid leave for about eight months.
"I was railroaded!" he says indignantly.
New Times met Ferrin at a restaurant near his home in Gilbert. His wife and two kids -- one in a baby carrier -- came along for the interview, as did his father, retired police officer John Ferrin.
Ferrin disputes most aspects of the case ASU made against him.
At the request of the school, longtime Valley private investigator Keith Sobraske conducted a probe of Ferrin over the summer, ultimately producing a 119-page report that covered stops not only of Ore but also of other citizens who had complained about Ferrin in his short 21 months on the force.
He was trained at the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy to "ask, tell, make," he says. As in, first you ask a citizen to comply with a police order. If that doesn't work, you get firm: You "tell" them what to do. Finally, if that fails, you "make" them comply.
Ore failed several times to comply with Ferrin's orders, the video shows. In Ferrin's view, he reluctantly got to the "make" part of demanding compliance, leading to the scuffle.
ASU Police Chief Mike Thompson, who replaced the previous chief a few weeks after Ore's arrest, used Sobraske's Investigative Research report to create January 7's 18-page "Notice of Intent to Terminate" served on Ferrin.
In the notice, Thompson accuses Ferrin of having had no legal basis for arresting Ore in the first place, and of Ferrin's using "harsh" language with his remark: "I'm going to slam you into this car."
He'd allegedly violated ASU policy five days before he arrested Ore when he grabbed and detained temporarily a graduate student whom he accused of disobeying his orders. Ferrin's interpretation of "ask, tell, make" was too rigid and he didn't use enough discretion during the Ore arrest and previous encounters with the public, Thompson says.
The notice and the hefty report on which it was based were intensive, retrospective looks at incidents for which Ferrin already had been investigated and cleared.
Before the Ore arrest, Ferrin was known by his superiors as an "energetic go-getter."
He volunteered for a lot of overtime to help his short-staffed campus police department. He had an above-average arrest and ticket-writing rate. He felt his training allowed him to handcuff detained suspects at will, ostensibly for officer safety. His supervisors coached him on occasion for his behavior, ASU's probe revealed.
What the ASU reports don't mention is that though Ferrin drew the most complaints -- four -- from the public in a two-year period reviewed by New Times, he wasn't the only one of about 70 campus cops receiving them. One of his co-workers had more violations from complaints upheld than Ferrin.
The chief told him last year during his long leave, "This isn't coming from me. This is coming from the university . . . resign or I'm going to do something to terminate you," according to Ferrin.
Thompson declined comment for this article.
Ferrin didn't resign -- not right away, at least.
During his time on leave, Facebook pages were created for both him and Ore by their supporters. Ferrin submitted to questioning for Sobraske's probe, defending himself without the help of a lawyer.
Ore refused to answer questions for the inquiry because her lawyer wasn't allowed to accompany her. She also declined comment for this article but allowed New Times to photograph her.
At a January 13 hearing, Ferrin appealed the intent-to-terminate notice and was told by ASU he'd be fired on January 21.
Instead, ASU extended his leave that day -- possibly because his wife was in labor and his insurance would have expired with his job. She gave birth to their second child later that night.
Thompson was left to make the final decision about Ferrin. Supposedly, anyway. It's unclear whether Chief Thompson was free to retain or fire Ferrin without approval from higher ASU officials.
In any case, Ferrin held out a few more weeks before resigning on February 16. He says it was the best decision for him and his family and that other police agencies wouldn't hire him if he was on leave or appealing to try to get his job back.
He hasn't filed a notice of claim, the first step toward a lawsuit. He says he hasn't ruled it out, either.
Ore, however, filed a $2 million claim in November against the university, alleging that she suffers from psychological problems resulting not only from Ferrin's "vicious attack," but from a "sense of retaliation" against her by ASU.
Ore posed for photographs for New Times but didn't agree to be interviewed.
The encounter between Stewart Ferrin and Ersula Ore was a public-relations disaster for ASU.
President Michael Crow's always trying to turn the country's largest public university into an even bigger, mightier institution. The modern incarnation of Tempe's Arizona Normal School, founded in 1885, is forever on the hunt for new research grants and big donations. But its bread and butter is students. One strategic goal is to sign up 100,000 people by 2020 for lucrative online-degree programs. Development of physical campus space in Tempe and downtown Phoenix continues because of previous investments. "Mom and Pop," as one of Ferrin's supervisors put it while once coaching the rookie officer, need to feel comfortable sending their kids to ASU.
Naturally, this includes ensuring a sense of inclusion for all. But Crow's still in Arizona, as he's often reminded.
In January 2014, a few months before Ore's violent arrest, ASU had been forced to suspend the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity for holding an "MLK Black Party," where participants wore gang attire and drank from watermelon cups. They took photos of the event and posted them to social-media sites. Local African-American activists expressed disgust to the news media, and Crow issued a lengthy public statement. The last thing he and his New American University needed was another racially charged scandal.
Ferrin, the rookie "go-getter," handed him one in video.
The case of seemingly excessive force by a white officer against a black university professor who hadn't committed a serious crime -- if she'd committed one at all -- touched people nationwide. Opinions about the case are rampant. As Nick Chiles, writer for AtlantaBlackstar.com wrote in January, "Many black people around the country were outraged when they saw [Ore] tackled to the ground."
"Video of Cop Assaulting Black ASU Professor Should Prompt More Than Outrage," ran the headline of a Vice News opinion article by Natasha Lennard.
Ferrin's actions were condemned as police brutality by many who watched Ore's arrest. Bystanders, judging by witness videos, were shocked by Ferrin's treatment of the African-American professor. The escalating problem had resulted from Ore's mere presence in the street, which was closed to most traffic at the time, and from her questioning of Ferrin. At least one witness called 911 to report the officer's actions.
The Ore arrest tapped into growing national concern of how police officers treat black people about two months before the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, ignited protests across the country. Last August, as thousands took to the streets in Missouri and elsewhere, President Obama ordered the FBI to probe Brown's shooting and criticized the use of excessive force by police.
"In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement," Obama said.
For that and other reasons, including questionable handling of the case by ASU, Ferrin and Ore stayed in the news locally and in far-reaching cyberspace.
Much of this tale comes down to unwarranted disrespect.
But it's not just about obvious incivility toward Ore, despite her cry as she struggled with Ferrin against his patrol car: "This entire thing is about your lack of respect for me! For me!"
There's Ore's perceived disrespect to the police officer to consider.
Some people watch the dash-cam video and see an overly emotional woman resisting the lawful commands of a uniformed officer.
No matter the reason for the traffic stop, or even whether Ferrin was legally incorrect, according to this point of view, Ore had no business acting as she did. She could have avoided getting thrown to the ground by complying with Ferrin's orders. Odds are she would have avoided any problem at all if she'd been contrite and agreeable when Ferrin asked her to move to a sidewalk.
In fact, some of Ore's supporters -- such as local black community activitist Jarrett Maupin -- acknowledge that there were problems with the actions of both Ferrin and Ore. The Sobraske report, while revealing Ferrin's deficiencies as an ASU officer, shows that Ore had no justifiable basis for her reaction to Ferrin.
Overshadowing everything, meanwhile, is the notion that ASU didn't treat its employees with respect.
Apparently focused on the bottom line of legal liability and public relations, ASU managed to mistreat both Ore and Ferrin.
Ore's claim that she was maligned by the school has yet to be verified but seems to have merit. ASU backed Officer Ferrin's story initially and -- she says -- canceled classes she'd been scheduled to teach.
Ferrin's depiction of getting "railroaded" appears valid, too. If his department wanted to fire him for the way he handled the arrest of Ore, it should have been done soon after the incident, with no charges against Ore submitted to prosecutors.
Yet ASU cleared him of wrongdoing following a review by school officials days after the arrest. Only after the case made headlines did the university act. As Sobraske's investigation revealed, Ferrin was singled out for punishment among other campus officers who'd made similar missteps.
Former ASU police officer Stewart Ferrin
No one would wish to be stopped by an officer like Stewart Ferrin.
Evidence suggests that he may have relished the power of his job a bit too much. Pulled over in a car or confronted walking across a street, a motorist or jaywalker probably would be scolded and then handed a ticket. Ferrin says his hard-charging attitude came out of respect for the job, with the bottom line being public safety.
Growing up in the Valley as the oldest of four siblings, Ferrin always wanted to be a police officer, like his father.
He was an Eagle Scout and volunteered with the Mesa Police Explorers for several years before graduating from high school. From a Mormon family, he used part of his own money to fund his two-year mission to Chile, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently. In 2011, he joined his dad's second wife, Angela, as an ASU police dispatcher. The next year, he switched to enforcement after graduating from the police academy. As his father's had, his style of policing soon drew citizen complaints.
Phoenix Rising Football Club vs. Seattle Sounders 2
TicketsSat., Sep. 2, 7:30pm
All You Can Eat Value Pack - Mercury v Dream
TicketsSun., Sep. 3, 1:00pm
Phoenix Mercury vs. Atlanta Dream
TicketsSun., Sep. 3, 1:00pm
Phoenix Rising Football Club
TicketsWed., Sep. 6, 7:30pm
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
TicketsFri., Sep. 8, 6:40pm
John Ferrin calls it an "interesting coincidence" that he and his son have gone through similar challenges.
Though both Ferrin men seem chipper and friendly in street clothes, they could be intimidating in uniform. John Ferrin was the target of more than a dozen citizen complaints in his 27 years with the Tempe Police Department. He retired in 2011.
The worst complaint came in 1998, when Mesa Community College chemistry student Alvin Yellowhair accused the elder Ferrin of choking, beating, and raping him anally with a police baton. The complaint later was dismissed by a federal grand jury.
By that year, court records show, the Tempe PD had sustained six complaints against him for "rude or sarcastic" comments to people he confronted on duty. After the first four, his department instructed him to see nationally recognized police psychologist Kevin Gilmartin for anger counseling. After two more complaints against him were upheld, Ferrin was suspended for 30 hours and transferred from the traffic bureau to patrol.
The difference, though, according to John Ferrin, is that his bosses at the Tempe PD had his back when he was in trouble. He was allowed to stay on duty even during the Yellowhair investigation, but ASU took his son's badge and gun in an apparent nod to public pressure, he gripes.
"I am absolutely perplexed by the level of interest that Michael Crow has taken in the actions of Stewart," his father says.
While ASU waged a propaganda campaign against his son, putting him on leave and engaging the FBI to review Ore's arrest, the family has rallied to create its own headlines.
In mid-January, after ASU allowed Stewart Ferrin to speak publicly following the Sobraske investigation, Ferrin and his father appeared at a pro-police rally in the Scottsdale Police Department's headquarters parking lot. Though Scottsdale police officially were neutral on the event, Chief Alan Rodbell and Scottsdale City Council members stood with the Ferrins and police supporters as they squared off against anti-police demonstrators.
About a week later, the embattled officer accepted an invitation from Jarrett Maupin to sit down for lunch with 15 local black women. Following the "lemonade summit," Maupin says he and others were convinced that Ferrin was not a racist. Maupin reversed his previous position, saying he believed ASU was wrong to try to fire Ferrin.
Ore's arrest "was regrettable on the part of both of the parties involved," Maupin tells New Times.
ASU Police Chief Mike Thompson replaced John Pickens after Ersula Ore's arrest.
Arizona State University
Officer Stewart Ferrin started work at 5 p.m. on May 20 and was on the streets an hour later in a fully marked patrol car with police assistant Daniel Hollendoner.
Having made no contacts or traffic stops since they went on patrol, Ferrin spotted Ersula Ore walking in the middle of College Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets.
College Avenue, in this location, is no major thoroughfare even when it isn't half-closed, like it was that night. New development is transforming this section of downtown Tempe, just across the street from Hayden Butte and Sun Devil Stadium. Besides the fast-food joints, shops, offices, and a pub, two high-rise buildings are under construction.
That evening, College was closed completely at Sixth Street because of the construction, and a sign on Fifth warned of a street closure. Although vehicles were allowed to visit the businesses on the street, the signs meant College at the site was "functionally a parking lot," ASU's Sobraske report states.
Ore, 34, was on her way home after teaching an advanced English class. She was wearing a short skirt and listening to something through earbuds. The professor lived in Phoenix and was walking toward the nearby light-rail station at Fifth and College. Tempe and ASU officials encourage employees and students to take public transportation instead of driving to the congested downtown.
Ore later told ASU Officer Mark Janda that Ferrin pulled up to her and said something from his car as she crossed the street, the report says. She removed her earbuds and asked what he wanted. "Walk on the sidewalk," he told her.
Ore said she felt accosted by the officer, having just left work. "Do you always speak to people that way?" she recalled asking him.
"What?" he responded.
In her statement to Officer Janda, Ore recounted, "I said, 'Do you always speak to people that way?' [Ferrin] reiterated his point that this was a street . . . and I said, 'I understand that, but that wasn't my question. My question was, 'Do you always address people in that manner?' He was incredibly rude and abrasive, like it doesn't matter what you look like or who someone thinks you might be, a student, an adult, whatever . . . Everybody deserves to spoken with, spoken to with respect. And I didn't get that from the jump so he didn't get that from me."
About that time, Ferrin got out of his car and confronted Ore, starting his audio recorder. The Sobraske report contains a transcript of his recording. It says Ferrin began demanding Ore's ID, telling her she was walking in the middle of the street and that he suspected her of obstruction of a public thoroughfare.
Under state law, police can demand the "truthful name" of a pedestrian suspected of a crime. They ordinarily can't demand ID.
No matter to Ferrin -- he disputes the findings of ASU's investigative report, which state that he had no legal grounds for the obstruction charge, for demanding ID from a pedestrian, or for making the arrest. Asking for ID from a detained person rather than a truthful name may not be a statutorily perfect method, but it's routine at the ASU Police Department, Ferrin maintains.
Ferrin explained to Ore repeatedly that she was stopped for being in the street, and he asked several times to see her ID, the transcript reveals.
But Ore wanted to talk to Ferrin about how he spoke to citizens.
"I just need to ask for a respectful treatment. That's it," she told him, according to the transcript. She added a moment later, "You're not listening to anything I said."
Ferrin said, "You're not listening to me -- let me see your ID."
Ore asked police assistant Hollendoner, "Is there any way you can actually step in because I think this is an incredible injustice." Hollendoner, sitting in the patrol car, reportedly responded by rolling up the window beside him.
Ore and Ferrin argued further. She informed him that never had she seen a cop stop a pedestrian for walking in the street "in a campus location."
Ferrin told her to produce her ID, and she'd ignored him. He ordered her to put her hands behind her back and asked Hollendoner to turn on the dash-cam recorder.
Two bystanders began shooting their own video with cell phones.
All three videos -- from the dash-cam and the cell phones (the latter two released by ASU police after Ferrin resigned) -- show Ore resisting Ferrin's attempts to cuff her as she keeps up her argument with him. She's shown repeatedly telling him, "Get your hands off me" and uttering several curse words, then beseeching onlookers to help her. In the first few seconds of the dash-cam video that drew a huge response on YouTube, Ferrin can be heard threatening to "slam" her against the patrol car. He's shown forcing her to the ground, her skirt scrunching up as they wrestle.
"I'm going to sue the fuck out of all of you, I swear to fucking God," she can be heard saying. Ore was jailed for about eight hours. She later was charged by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office with obstructing a public thoroughfare, refusing to provide a truthful name, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault.
Stewart Ferrin, John Ferrin, and activist Nohl Rosen at January's pro-police rally in Scottsdale.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, Ersula Ore returned to her high school in Towson, Maryland, and taught English for two years. She then moved on to Penn State University to prepare for a career in academia.
On a defense website for Ore, "Stand Your Ground And Lift Your Voice," her biography states that she "received a dual-degree master's in English and women's studies and a Ph.D in English, rhetoric, and composition. As Ersula often explains, rhetoric is the ability to discern the available means of [persuasion] during a moment of social interaction."
A disclaimer on the site says it was created by a third party and that "Ersula does not adopt any of the statements contained in this website as her own."
She began teaching English and rhetoric classes at ASU in the fall of 2011, ASU's website shows.
Ore's not only a rhetoric professor -- she's a researcher of the terrible legacy of the lynching of black people in the United States. In her "first book project, tentatively titled Lynching: A Rhetoric of Citizenship," the Stand Your Ground site states, Ore "argues that the logic informing American lynching likewise informs citizenship practices."
Her Ph.D dissertation at Penn State has a similar theme, an abstract of her project shows.
Following the Civil War, lynchings were tolerated in American culture because they served as a symbol of the rejection of black people as full citizens, Ore says. Her findings conclude that "the nation's proclivity to rationalize racialized murder as an expression of civic identity is not a practice that is dead and gone, but instead a practice that is very much a part of the historical present."
Ore and Ferrin's chance meeting that evening was ripe with history, whether they knew it consciously or not, says Matthew Whitaker, founding director of ASU's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.
"With African-Americans, we're looking through a different lens," Whitaker says.
For hundreds of years, white men exerted unjust authority over black women, subjecting them to abuse, he says: "So when we see that, that reality is triggered."
In reviewing what Ore told Officer Janda, Sobraske reflected in his investigative report to ASU, "There appears to be nothing obviously disrespectful, from the standpoint of a reasonable person, about Officer Ferrin's statement to her . . . Ore could have been more diplomatic and less [confrontational] in her initial comments to and conduct toward Officer Ferrin."
Police assistant Hollendoner told Sobraske: "She just seemed very irate at the fact that she was getting stopped."
While Ore, Ferrin, and Hollendoner related similar accounts of what was said initially at the stop, Sobraske reported, "Ore appears to have taken the comments by Officer Ferrin much differently than Officer Ferrin says that he intended them. We do not know why this is the case, absent the opportunity to interview Dr. Ore."
Ore has granted only one news interview. She told CNN last year that Ferrin asked her "if I knew the difference between a street and a sidewalk . . . I 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 just did me?'"
Her position is stated bluntly in her August 1 defense sentencing recommendation, signed by Phoenix lawyer Alane Roby: "Dr. Ore was simply questioning Officer Ferrin as to why he believed his badge gave him the authority to treat her subhuman."
Without direct evidence that Ferrin acted with racial bias, Whitaker declined to speculate how race may have played a role in Ferrin's treatment of Ore. Some police simply want everyone, no matter their background, to submit, he says.
"This was a textbook example of an officer who could have approached her and communicated with her in ways that would have led to a different outcome," he contends.
At the same time, he opines that some of Ore's decisions "weren't particularly wise. Because at the end of the day, he has a gun -- he's a police officer."
From Ore's standpoint, sometimes you've just got to go for it. She felt singled out among other pedestrians that night, possibly just for being black, and launched a one-woman protest.
"I had to decide which was more important -- respect for one authority figure with a badge or respect for the Constitution of the United States that protects each citizen from unlawful search and seizure," she wrote in a February 11 statement released to New Times. "Under the Constitution, I have the right to ask why I am being detained, and I chose to exercise my constitutional rights by asking him why I had to show my ID if I did not do anything wrong."
The County Attorney's Office, when presented with a motion laying out the facts as Ore saw them, agreed in late July to drop three of the four charges. But Ore had to plead guilty to resisting arrest as part of the deal.
Even if an arrest is unlawful, County Attorney Bill Montgomery tells New Times, that's not a defense to resisting arrest.
Though Ore had asked for one day of supervised probation as punishment, Superior Court Commissioner Julie Mata agreed with prosecutors that Ore deserved a sentence of nine months of probation. Ore was ordered to serve an additional 50 hours of community service and take an anger-management class.
Since her arrest, Ore's claim states, she's been distrustful of uniformed officers and "fearful of her ability to walk freely" without getting "violated" by police. It says her humiliation is compounded each time she sees her picture in the media and that she suffers depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, irritability, and panic attacks, forcing her to take medication.
As with Ferrin's actions that evening, ASU's response to Ore's has vacillated. According to her claim, the school took away her summer teaching schedule, for which she anticipated a "considerable amount of compensation," and an unnamed dean "strongly implied" the move was because of the incident. Then, Provost Rob Page sent an e-mail to ASU faculty members stating that the university was on Ore's side, after which her summer classes were reinstated.
The arrest does seem to have had an effect on Ore's employment, judging by one measure: Ore's ASU bio doesn't list any classes she's taught since last summer.
Tracy Stewart says Ferrin yelled at her during a traffic stop.
The mother of an ASU student won't soon forget the day in January 2014 when she was stopped by Stewart Ferrin for driving the wrong way on a one-way road at College Avenue and Apache Boulevard.
"Are you stupid? Can you not read?" Tracy Stewart says Ferrin yelled at her as he ran up to give her a ticket. She says he then berated her further, making her fear that she was about to be taken to jail and reducing her to tears. Her ticket later was dismissed.
Ferrin's department launched a tepid probe of the complaint she filed a few weeks later. Ferrin denied he called her stupid. ASU claimed it deleted the dash-cam video of Stewart's stop after her complaint against Ferrin was declared unfounded in June, making it difficult to know for sure what happened.
Five days before he arrested Ore, Ferrin grabbed white graduate student Joseph Rheinhardt and tried to cuff him for disobeying an order about which crosswalk to use. An internal investigation was opened after Rheinhardt complained, but the case was declared unfounded in the list of complaints reviewed by New Times.
In the Ore case, Sobraske found, Ferrin violated ASU police policy because he did not display restraint. Instead, he escalated the situation when Ore would not provide her ID, "which she was not legally obliged to provide and when there were other options available.
"Officer Ferrin did not display courtesy, insofar as he did not take any actions to de-escalate the situation. It may be that, in other law enforcement agencies, the focus on courtesy would be less pronounced, but at [the] ASU PD, it is of utmost importance."
Yet Ferrin clearly was singled out for doing what other ASU cops have been allowed to get away with for years. The ungracious use of handcuffs and invasive ID checks have been standard procedure at the university PD.
Ferrin's four citizen complaints during his employment between 2012 and 2014 were out of a total of 25 for the department and the most for any officer during that period.
Most complaints by officers are deemed "unfounded" or "not sustained" by supervisors. According to ASU policy, unfounded means the complaint was investigated by the ASU PD and found to be false. Not sustained means insufficient evidence, and "sustained" means the complaint was found to be valid.
Of Ferrin's four complaints, three were declared unfounded.
He was found responsible for one -- a case in which he used handcuffs too eagerly on a suspect during a February 2014 arrest and used the department's holding facility at its headquarters at Apache Boulevard and College Avenue to allow the 18-year-old suspect to sober up.
Two months after that incident, the Sobraske report states, Commander William Orr ordered the mildest of rebukes -- a letter of instruction. Only a few details are given, but the mother of the 18-year-old suspect complained about Ferrin.
Commander Orr himself was found to have treated a citizen improperly a year earlier and was disciplined with an official instruction letter.
In November 2013 and again in February 2014, Ferrin was investigated for making traffic stops while off duty. His actions were found to be in compliance, but he was told not to wear his uniform unless he was at work and to refrain from off-duty stops unless someone's life was in danger. Ferrin told his superiors his duty as an officer required him to act. A commander told him in a memo that his actions in making the stops were dangerous and exposed him and the agency to liability.
Sobraske's report states that Ferrin was coached about his aggressive ticketing and cuffing behavior on other occasions by Sergeant John Thompson and Corporal Katie Fuchtman, themselves the subjects of complaints later deemed unfounded.
Five officers had two complaints each filed against them, with some -- like Ferrin -- showing sustained findings.
ASU Officer Dan Gaughan was involved in a controversial case in 2010 in which he demanded ID from an African-American woman sitting in her parked car, then arrested her after she questioned his behavior. The woman was exonerated by a jury, but Gaughan wasn't scrutinized like Ferrin. He continues to work at the ASU department, and from 2012 to 2014, he was the subject of two more citizen complaints -- one not sustained and the other ruled unfounded.
In March, 18-year-old Andre Lee Juwaun Maestas, a black ASU student, was confronted by Officer Mark Janda and accused of obstruction of a public thoroughfare -- he'd allegedly sat down on a street near his Best Hall dorm just after midnight. A police report states that Maestas couldn't explain to the officer why he was sitting there and was asked to leave.
Janda read him his rights, asked him if he understood them, and then handcuffed the student, according to the report, which provides no plausible explanation for why cuffs were necessary, because Maestas had been polite.
Maestas tells New Times that Janda demanded his wallet. He says he let the cop search it. His medical-marijuana card was found, he says, leading to a search of his dorm room and a subsequent felony possession charge after a tiny amount of pot was discovered. The Arizona Supreme Court is reviewing the case because a 2012 state statute, despite the Medical Marijuana Act, makes it illegal for patients to possess pot on college campuses.
Sobraske wasn't hired to investigate other potentially serious policy violations by the ASU PD. He states up front in his report that the university hired him to investigate only two of the cases involving Ferrin: Ore's and Rheinhardt's.
An initial investigation by ASU, as mentioned, had cleared Ferrin. Then came the wave of publicity surrounding the viral dash-cam video, first aired June 27 by Channel 3.
Rocked by bad press, ASU asked the FBI to review Ore's arrest for civil rights violations. The feds completed the task on July 8 and submitted the case to the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office for review. On August 28, prosecutors informed the FBI that no charges would be filed against Ferrin.
Sobraske's report, dated December 2, reversed the findings in the previous investigations of the Ore and Rheinhardt incidents. Now, they're sustained.
The PR-minded university was less than forthcoming with information for this article.
ASU's public-affairs office, which sometimes speaks for the ASU PD, says Rheinhardt's case was deemed unfounded the first time because Rheinhardt withdrew his complaint. But ASU's own definition of unfounded means a complaint was found to be false after an investigation, and Rheinhardt's withdrawal of his complaint didn't have to stall the probe. Sobraske's probe of the Ore case shows that cooperation of the alleged victim isn't always needed to conduct a thorough review.
The scope of the probe obviously was too narrow. Although Sobraske takes pains to find fault with only Ferrin, he describes how at least three sergeants claimed that Ferrin continued to write tickets or cuff people unnecessarily even after they coached him -- which suggests lack of follow-up until Ferrin made the news.
Suspiciously, the university has delayed the release of several records related to the Ferrin probe, including documentation of the original Ore and Rheinhardt investigations that found no problems with Ferrin. Records of Tracy Stewart's stop haven't been released, and ASU won't even say whether there's record of when the dash-cam video in that case was deleted.
Longtime ASU Police Chief John Pickens unexpectedly left his post early a few weeks after the Ore video exploded on the Internet, as did second-in-command James Hardina.
Hardina tells New Times his leaving had nothing to do with the Ore case -- he says he left because of Pickens' departure.
Pickens hasn't commented about why he transferred to a different ASU job after a national search for a new chief was complete. ASU officials deny any connection between the Ore case and Pickens' move.
ASU says it chose to promote ASU police veteran Mike Thompson to chief following the national search.
A call to Chief Thompson for comment was answered by an e-mail from Gerardo Gonzalez of ASU's main PR division. Gonzalez says ASU considered the Ore matter closed.
Neither Crow nor ASU, in general, will comment about how ASU handled the situation, perhaps because Ore -- and maybe Ferrin -- could move ahead with a lawsuit. Danny Ortega, Ore's new lawyer, says he definitely will file suit before May 20, the statutory time limit of a year after the incident.
ASU clearly wishes the case really was closed.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.