Are you serious?
Police dash-cam video of the action-packed, May 20 arrest of Ersula Jawanna Ore, a 33-year-old rhetoric and English assistant professor at Arizona State University, has gone viral, feeding claims of racism and police brutality.
As publicity grows along with an accompanying firestorm of criticism leveled at ASU, the university announced that the use of force and initial confrontation by an ASU police officer will be reviewed.
Sunday's late announcement by ASU, provided to the Huffington Post, comes as the book is already being thrown at Ore by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who is prosecuting the assistant professor on three misdemeanors and one felony count of aggravated assault related to the incident.
The police video, obtained by Channel 3 (KTVK-TV) on June 27 and subsequently posted on various Internet sites, makes neither the arresting officer nor Ore look good.
Stewart Ferrin, a rookie officer with ASU Police, worked as a police dispatcher with his stepmom at the department as recently as 2012. He's wanted to be a cop his whole life; his dad, John Ferrin, is a retired Tempe officer. Now the younger Ferrin has broken onto the world social-media and news scene with video of him roughing up a black woman who had committed the sin of failing to follow his orders.
But Ore's the star of the video, proving embarrassingly that her mastery of rhetoric has its limits. Ore's a former Penn State instructor who's done research into "the circulation of lynching photography and its place in contemporary American discourse." Her next paper can be about her own experience in a modern, albeit figurative iteration of "lynching photography." It would have plenty of readers, judging from the headlines and rhetoric from some Internet sites about Ore's take-down and arrest.
"Arizona State University Police Arrest Black Female Professor For Jaywalking," says the headline on a story in Uptownmagazine.com, followed by an article that begins, "In another eyebrow-raising incident out of Arizona..."
"Newly Surfaced Dash Cam Video Captures Police Brutality at Its Worst," is the headline in news round-up site mic.com.
No one likes to be told what to do, but the video shows Ore was nothing like compliant. That may be admirable in a GTA5 sense, but it isn't entirely reasonable. Common sense dictates that if cops are bullying you, don't bother resisting -- they always win that battle. You and lawyer can deal with any alleged civil-rights violation later, if that's how you want to play it.
But Ore made her decision to throw down with Ferrin. She's fighting the charges of resisting arrest, obstructing a road, refusing to give her name to a police officer and aggravated assault, court records show. She's started a website and defense fund. The video seems to have infused her defense with public support, and that could help with her most pressing problem: keeping her job.
ASU officials, after first saying that ASU police appeared to have acted appropriately, released the second statement late Sunday night mentioning the pending review of the incident. The statement also reveals, apparently for the first time, that police allege a patrol car "nearly hit" Ore as she stood in the middle of College Avenue near Fifth Street.
See below for ASU's latest statement and the dash-cam video as rebroadcast on YouTube:
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 she shown on the video and as she admitted in her recorded statements to the police.