ASU Officer Who Body-Slammed Professor Resigns

Steve Russell
2/18/15

An Arizona State University police officer who was caught on video slamming a black female English professor to the pavement during a custodial arrest for the offense of jaywalking has resigned rather than continue fighting to keep his job after an outside investigation ordered by the University concluded that the arrest violated several University policies and showed poor judgment.

RELATED: Video: Cops Bodyslam Female ASU Professor For Jaywalking

The report by Investigative Research, Inc., which was obtained by The Arizona Republic with a public records request, concluded that Officer Stewart Ferrin had no reasonable cause to arrest Professor Ersula Ore because she in fact had yielded to traffic in the road.

The report found no evidence that the officer’s actions were based on the professor’s race, as some activists had asserted.

After the arrest, Professor Ore was charged with resisting arrest, felony aggravated assault, obstructing a public thoroughfare, and failing to provide identification. Ore pled guilty to resisting arrest and received nine months of probation. All other charges were dropped. In virtually all jurisdictions, it is a crime to resist an arrest even when the arrest is unlawful.

Professor Ore has filed a $2 million claim against the ASU police department and Officer Ferrin for false arrest, assault and battery, and violation of due process.

While the confrontation with Professor Ore precipitated ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson’s decision to fire Officer Ferrin, the Chief made clear that his decision was not based on this one case but rather on a pattern of conduct.

While still in the police academy, Ferrin received a written reprimand for “untruthfulness, insubordination, and code-of-conduct violations.”

While on the street, he disregarded instructions to issue more warnings and fewer “keepers,” and one supervisor admonished, “You do not always have to throw the book at everybody.”

Just five days before Ore’s arrest, ASU researcher Joseph Reinhardt complained that Ferrin demanded his identification and threatened to arrest him for using the wrong crosswalk. An investigation showed that Reinhardt had crossed legally and posed no hazard. Ferrin was counseled to exercise better judgment.

Chief Thompson wrote in his letter to the officer that Ferrin’s "rigid, power-based approach to law enforcement and unwillingness to exercise discretion and sound judgment” led to an arrest of Professor Ore without a lawful basis.

Ferrin denied any misconduct. Ferrin’s attorney, Mel McDonald, told the Republic, “Why spend thousands of dollars to fight this when he doesn’t want to go back there?” Ferrin’s letter of resignation accused ASU of “an agenda to ruin my career.”

Much of Officer Ferrin’s difficulty with ASU appeared to turn on the University wishing for a policy of community-oriented law enforcement on the campus. Ferrin’s resignation ends the controversy over his firing. Professor Ore’s claim remains pending.

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
WTF? Why is it that a police officer who is overly aggressive without cause can simply quit his job to avoid prosecution? What about the original complaint? His actions were unbecoming of a police officer . . . well, if he's not a police officer anymore shouldn't that open him to criminal prosecution? Where is the justice in this? A woman who is a respected member of her community was ruthlessly slammed to the pavement for no good reason and the perpetrator escapes prosecution by simply quitting his job? How is THAT fair?
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