Arizona professor’s jaywalking arrest quickly gets out of hand

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Ersula Ore

(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 the officer and asks him to be respectful.

The two talk over each other as the situation escalates, with the officer threatening to arrest Ore unless she produces her ID.

“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 the officer 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?”

The officer 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.

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.


  • Jim Treul

    How about just cooperate with the officer and present your side to the court? Why do people have to be so ignorant and entitled.

    • Dan

      Agreed. He stopped her for a crime, she’s required to show ID, it’s that simple. It sounds like she just didn’t want to cooperate and now doesn’t want to pay the price.

  • triplea

    Euro-professor different comments for sure. Never mind the quota chaser, obviously none of the above comments were disseminated by persons who have attended universities, though she was avoiding construction, campuses are full of students and others randomly walking across intersection and not at crosswalks most of the time. I never seen a Marquette or UWM officer pull students over for jaywalking. Just another case of a dumb, lonely, high school reject with a badge trying to exercise what he can’t exercise at home with his toothless wife or husband, power.

  • mjklemm

    So, by breaking the law, this is racial profiling ? This country is going to hell in a handbag fast…..

  • Sean

    Clearly both parties weren’t very cooperative or this wouldn’t have happened. I have seen many officers who egg people on so that they can abuse their power, it seems pretty clear the officer could have avoided the situation all together but didn’t want to. I have also never seen anyone pulled over for j walking, specifically on a campus, out of probably tens of thousands of times witnessing and committing it myself. I, too, question officers when they are making questionable or unnecessary decisions to hurt the citizens they are there to serve and protect. Sure, in this situation I would show him my ID and tell him the construction was the reason for j walking, but often times cops are just as uncooperative as those they arrest and instigate the arrest. If the cop was polite, and not intimidating and rude, I bet the woman would have cooperated as well. I don’t like being disrespected because I know I could just as easily be an officer of the law and I would want to treat people how I want to be treated. Granted, many people you deal with as an officer are uncooperative and can jade you, but that doesn’t mean you need to treat everyone as if they should end up in cuffs at the end of the situation. For some of us it’s tough to put on a happy face and be polite to an officer that is rude, intimidating and offensive. Even though you know it won’t work out in your favor, sometimes you need to make a stand, unfortunately most police that do abuse their power get away with it for a very long time and the ones that are unfortunate to come across them pay the price. Obviously there are many officers that are very polite, good people with good intentions, but just like in any occupation there are those who abuse their power and shouldn’t be in the position they are.

  • Former AZ resident

    Everyone knows that AZ police at all levels have it out for brown people. I’m surprised the ‘debate’ even continues. Sure she committed a crime but police officers are given discretion that should have been used. A quick warning to use the sidewalk would’ve sufficed but because the professor was brown, the officer opted a more aggressive approach. We all know it. Enough of this.

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