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UA police: Prof fought her arrest

By Devin Simmons
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday November 26, 2002

The associate professor who said police treated her roughly during an attempted arrest had been resisting, UA police stated in a report released Friday.

Irene d'Almeida, an associate professor of French, told police she resisted arrest by University of Arizona Police Department officer Robb Fountain because she was a "good person" who had never been handcuffed before in her life.

The incident has been a cause for concern for the chair of d'Almeida's department, other professors around the globe and President Pete Likins.

A letter from a colleague of d'Almeida addressed to Likins, Police Chief Tony Daykin and others, stated that Fountain threw d'Almeida to the floor, broke her eyeglasses, tore her clothes and bruised her in an attempted Oct. 30 arrest.

Fountain approached d'Almeida's office at 11:38 a.m. on Oct. 30 to ask her questions connected with a hit-and-run incident, police reports stated.

D'Almeida opened the door and Fountain began to ask her about the student whom police believe d'Almeida hit with the side mirror of her car at North Cherry Avenue and East Fourth Street.

D'Almeida's lawyer, William Risner, said yesterday that d'Almeida had been at her doctor's office when the hit-and-run accident had occurred.

D'Almeida told Fountain that she did not have time to talk to him and she refused to give the officer her identification, reports stated.

Fountain told d'Almeida that they could talk there and resolve the situation the easy way or go down to the station and resolve it the hard way. Fountain attempted to handcuff d'Almeida, but she resisted, backing into a file cabinet and hiding her hands, reports stated.

Fountain struggled to get the cuffs on d'Almeida, as she yelled and screamed.

D'Almeida told police "you think I am just some nigger off the street you can push around," reports stated.

When other units arrived, d'Almeida was handcuffed and sitting on the floor, yelling incoherently, reports stated.

D'Almeida, said she resisted because she was a good person who had never been handcuffed before in her life, reports stated.

"I didn't want to (be handcuffed)," she said in the report. "This hurts more than physical. I have never been handcuffed before."

The police report of the attempted arrest does not include any reference to d'Almeida's clothes being torn or her being bruised.

UAPD Cmdr. Brian Seastone declined to comment yesterday, as the Fountain's actions are still under internal investigation.

The investigation into Fountain's actions should be finished within the next two weeks, Seastone said.

Officer Fountain, 30, has been with UAPD for two years. He came to UAPD right out of the police academy, Seastone added.

Risner said that he had some concerns as to whether the alleged brutality was racially motivated.

"Judging from my life experiences, I would doubt that the police would have done the same thing to a white professor," Risner said. "But, I just don't know for sure."

Risner said that d'Almeida was responsive to police inquiries of the hit-and-run accident, which occurred on Oct.18. He said that she had given the police her home phone number and asked them to call her there.

Police reports state that officers had called d'Almeida at her residence and left several messages between Oct. 22 and Oct. 27.

Risner said that the times police tried to contact d'Almeida, she had happened to be busy.

"It is clear that no citizen is required to talk to police," Risner said. "If a person happens to be busy, they can get back to them later. Just because she didn't get back to them doesn't mean that they should be able to handcuff her and throw her on the floor."

Professor Marie-Pierre Le Hir, chair of the French and Italian department, said that the events on Oct. 30 have affected the way that d'Almeida and everyone else in the department have been able to focus on work.

"We are all still in shock," Le Hir said. "This is not how things are done in the academic world. We see this kind of treatment on TV, but we don't deal with people that way."

Le Hir said she was present to see the end of the attempted arrest. She estimated that 10 to 12 officers were on the scene by the time it was over.

She also said that an officer had made a phone call to her to give a verbal apology for what happened to d'Almeida, saying it gotten out of hand.

"My biggest question is why did this have to happen on campus?" Le Hir said. "They could have taken care of this away from campus, at her home."

The incident has sparked a flurry of e-mails to Likins from concerned members of the UA community and colleagues of d'Almeida's across the world. The president has received letters from a professor of French in Benin (West Africa), a professor from Florida International University and a professor from Stanford University, who is also the president of the African Literature Association, of which d'Almeida is past president.

In a response to some of the e-mails that Likins forwarded to Daykin, Likins stated, "My limitations preclude my reading this letter, but even I can tell that it is not good."

Likins could not be reached for comment Friday or Monday.


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