PHOENIX (Reuters) - A professor in Arizona who scuffled with campus police after being stopped for walking in the middle of the street at night pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, court officials said.
Ersula Ore, an assistant English professor at Arizona State University, made the plea in Maricopa County Superior Court in relation to the video-taped incident from May 20.
Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the county attorney, said Ore is expected to receive probation when she is sentenced on Aug. 1 under the terms of the plea deal with prosecutors. Her lawyer, Alane Roby, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The 33-year-old faculty member had initially been charged with aggravated assault and two other misdemeanor charges in events captured by a dashboard camera on a police car. Those charges were dropped under the plea deal, court officials said.
Ore’s attorney had argued that arresting officer Stewart Ferrin was abusive and violated the professor’s civil rights.
The blurry video shows what looked to be an escalating confrontation after the officer asked Ore for identification. They wrestle on the ground as Ferrin attempts to handcuff her, before a second officer arrives to assist him.
Ore’s lawyer had said she acted in self-defense, and the incident had raised the specter of possible police brutality. Some supporters and civil rights activists claimed the African-American assistant professor may have been racially profiled.
Ferrin has been placed on paid administrative leave. A preliminary investigation by university police found he “did not engage in racial profiling or use of excessive force.”
University officials have asked the FBI to investigate whether any civil rights violations were committed, and an FBI spokesman said on Wednesday that the agency will continue to conduct the probe despite the plea agreement.
Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh