BOZEMAN- A video of tense exchange taking place during a traffic stop in Bozeman by a Montana State University police officer is making the rounds on Facebook over the matter of race.
On January 8th, Krystle Saatjian was pulled over on Kagy Boulevard just outside the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse at MSU.
The speed limit is 35 miles per hour, Saatjian was being pulled over for going 48 in a 35.
That’s how fast officers told her they clocked her at, but Saatjian says she checked her speed and was going 38.
So at first, she questioned the traffic stop. Once she did this the officer speaking with her called in backup that’s when Saatjian says she pulled out her phone and began to record. She says the situation felt uncomfortable.
Saatjian explains that it was the number of officers present that made her feel this way, in total there were three Montana State University police officers around her car.
According to MSU Police Chief Frank Parrish, Officer Josh Falkos called for backup as a matter of policy. Parrish explains this happens when an officer feels a driver is agitated. Parrish explains the new officer on scene is meant to serve as a neutral party.
In this case the neutral party was Officer Angela Roundtree. Chief Parrish also explains the third officer was present with Roundtree due to that officer’s vehicle being out of service for maintenance.
But things between Saatjian and Roundtree became heated. It started when Saatjian says Roundtree accused her of not being “from around here.” Then later during the traffic stop Saatjian says she thought that she heard Roundtree tell her to “go back to where she came from.”
Saatjian says, “that’s what kind of caught my attention.” Saatjian continues saying, “I said you don’t understand, black people are dying all over the United States and I mean this is a justifiable fear.”
Roundtree and Saatjian engaged in some back-and-forth. After watching the video back Saatjian doesn't believe the officer told her to “go back to where she came from” but feels the officer's comments and overall behavior were antagonistic.
“She went away and she came back, and she went away and she came back,” Saatjian said, “when she didn’t go away she was standing there staring at me.”
Chief Parrish says the actions displayed are disappointing and not consistent with the values of his department or the university. “Regardless of what our officers are faced with when they approach a vehicle they have a moral and ethical obligation to the community and their profession to maintain their professionalism,” Parrish said.
As a result of the interactions, Roundtree has been placed on administrative duties.
Parrish went on to say that he and the department will work hard to earn back the trust of the community.
Even though the exchange was heated Saatjian and Parrish believe there’s a positive outcome to be had.
“These are absolutely learning moments,” Parrish said, “It’s an opportunity for us to evaluate what training we do give our officers and enhance that training and we will hope to do that with the help community organization.”
As for Saatjian, she hopes the outcome sparks a larger conversation.
“You know at the end of the day I just want to make sure that the world that we’re living in for our children is better and I know that might sound cliché but it’s the truth,” Saatjian said.
Saatjian is sitting down with the Police Cheif for Montana State University on Monday. Her hope is some training can come from this for the officers who work on campus.
When asked if Saatjian would like to sit down with Roundtree and talk, she said yes.
BOZEMAN- A Bozeman woman is taking issue with the way a traffic stop was handled by members of the Montana State University police department on January 8th.
Krystle Saatjian posted a short excerpt of the incident on her Facebook page the following day.
The video shows an exchange between Krystle Saatjian and MSU officers. But it’s one particular officer, Officer Angela Roundtree, that Saatjian takes issue.
Saatjian says she feels that Officer Roundtree was aggressive and insensitive and on more than one occasion during the traffic stop stating that Saatjian “wasn’t from around here”.
Saatjian says in the current climate in the United States where there have been multiple situations where officers have been overly aggressive with people of color that she went into the traffic stop with heightened awareness.
Saatjian admits that while she was civil with the first officer, that she met Officer’s Roundtree’s level of passion during the traffic stop.
Saatjian is scheduled to meet with the MSU police chief on Monday. She says she hopes that meeting will result in sensitivity training.
Saatjian says she also would welcome an opportunity to sit down with Officer Roundtree to better explain how the situation made her feel.
We’ll have more on this story including an interview with the MSU Police Chief tonight on Montana Right Now.