An Arizona State University Police Officer has been granted a reprieve from being fired for throwing an African American professor to the ground after stopping her for walking in the street.
The video of the incident, which occurred last May, is to many further proof of a disturbing “trend” of law enforcement using excessive (and sometimes deadly) force against non-white people – both men and women.
Watch the video here:
Officer Stewart Ferrin, the 25-year-old campus cop at the center of the incident, was initially cleared by ASU, but was subsequently placed on paid leave in July when a video of the confrontation between him and ASU English professor Dr. Ersula Ore, 33, began circulating on social media. Last month, Ferrin received a letter from his department saying that his last date of work was to be on January 21.
However, Ferrin was granted a reprieve from his termination, according to his lawyer, Mel McDonald, and his fate now rests with the university’s new chief of police, Michael Thompson. Thompson became chief in July, after Police Chief John Pickens resigned in the wake of the scandal.
McDonald said that as of Jan. 21, he was unable to say how long Ferrin’s leave would be extended. “It’s pending administrative decision, but no decision’s been made yet,” said the former Arizona U.S. Attorney, as reported by the Phoenix New Times.
Predictably, Ferrin has been making the media rounds in the last few weeks, attending pro-police rallies and pleading his case. In telling his side of the story, Ferrin remains adamant that race had nothing to do with the stop or arrest.
Dashboard-camera video shows Ferrin repeatedly telling Professor Ore to put her hands behind her back, after she was stopped for walking in the street. When she refused, Ferrin told Ore he will “slam” her on the police car, according to the video. Footage shows the officer tackling her to the ground. A police report says Ore kicked the officer in the shin.
However, Ore told police that she felt that the officer “bullied her” and he “belabored” the point that she shouldn’t be walking in the street, reports AZ Central news. The police report says the professor argued with Ferrin and told him he was being disrespectful. She refused to show identification during the confrontation.
That night, Ore was arrested on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal damage, refusal to provide a truthful name and obstructing a public thoroughfare. She pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and the other charges were dropped.
In November, Ore’s attorney filed a claim against ASU seeking $2 million dollars in damages.
In an interview with News 12 in Arizona, Ferrin said that Ore’s walking in the street was a “criminal act,” and that he couldn’t tell what race Ore was before arresting her. Further, Ferrin said that he knows what it means to be a “minority.”
“I was an LSD missionary in Chile, and I was a white guy in Chilean culture, so I know what it is to an extent to be a minority,” said Ferrin. He also said he’s concerned about his family and insurance benefits. His wife gave birth to his second child on January 22.
Ferrin recently started a “Go Fund Me” campaign, which has raised nearly $5,000 at press time.
After viewing the video, do you think Ferrin escalated the situation, or was Ore correct to be up in arms for one, being stopped for walking in the street in the first place (incidentally, the thing that began the whole Mike Brown shooting death,) and two, being threatened to be “slammed” to the ground for not showing identification? Does Ferrin’s being a “minority” for two years make him immune to racial bias?
And finally, we have to ask — seriously — how many drunk co-eds on that campus walk in the street unaccosted by campus police? I’ll wait.