Community members push for police answers after Oregon State University student arrested, thrown to ground

Genesis Hansen arrest

Delaney Shea, Editor-in-Chief and Vada Shelby

Updated: Monday, Oct. 21 at 6 a.m. Original story, including witness videos, below.

Editor’s note: Genesis Hansen is employed as a columnist with Orange Media Network. The Daily Barometer is a part of OMN. 

Correction: The article stated that since bicycles are considered a vehicle under ORS 814.400, meaning police officers can require presentation of identification after lawfully stopping someone on a bicycle. However, though bicycles are considered a vehicle in some instances, there is not a statutory requirement that bicycle riders must present identification when lawfully pulled over for a traffic violation.

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After the recent arrest of an Oregon State University student by the Oregon State Police, which may not have been justified, community members are seeking answers and the university has stated its intent to potentially reevaluate its relationship with OSP.

Genesis Hansen, a fourth-year OSU student and English and philosophy double major, was arrested by Oregon State Police Trooper Kelly Katsikis on charges of interfering with an OSP officer in the form of refusing to show identification after being pulled over while bicycling, and resisting arrest, on Sunday, Oct. 13. During the interaction between Hansen and police, witness Gabby Johnson said she thinks the arresting officers were unnecessarily rough with Hansen, throwing her to the ground during the arrest.

According to Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, Hansen may have been within the law in refusing to present her identification. 

Lieutenant Craig Flierl of the Oregon State Police told The Baro it would be inappropriate for him to comment on this particular case. 

OSP’s Public Information Officer, Steve Mitchell, gave a statement on Wednesday, Oct. 23, as reported by the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Mitchell said the matter is under review, as is standard practice with Use of Force incidents, and criminal charges have been referred to the Benton County DA’s office.

Haroldson said, at the time of interview, that the only material from the arrest he has reviewed is the body cam footage from Katsikis, but it is possible Hansen should not have been charged.

“I do not see anything that could be charged criminally,” said Haroldson.

Although bicycles are considered a vehicle under ORS 814.400, and a driver’s license must be presented when lawfully stopped while driving a car, there is no statutory requirement stating that bike riders must provide identification when stopped by police. 

The question of whether the amount of force used by OSP was legally justified or not, partially depends on whether or not the arrest itself was lawful. 

“If an arrest occurs unlawfully, any force used after that should not occur,” Haroldson said. 

Oregon State Police contracts with Oregon State University to provide traffic enforcement on campus, extra security and access to resources beyond what campus security officers can provide, according to the OSU Public Safety website. 

Hansen was initially pulled over for a failure to drive within the line, a traffic violation. 

Corvallis Police Chief Jon Sassaman said to the Gazette-Times that while he did not want to comment on the question of whether racial bias  was involved in the initial stop, he believes the state trooper’s video shows no sign of excessive force, only an establishing of control.

The body cam footage from the incident, reviewed by The Baro, is nearly 40 minutes long, though it does not begin until after Katsikis has already pulled Hansen over. 

In the footage, Hansen asks to see the legislation she has been pulled over for breaking, as well as the legislation allowing the officer to demand her identification. 

The officer informs her why she has been pulled over, but does not state which law necessitates the presentation of identification. The two speak for about half an hour, as backup officers arrive. During that time, Hansen mentions she is wary of the situation because she is African-American. Ultimately, Katsikis tells her if she does not present her identification, he will arrest her. 

“I don’t answer questions” is Hansen’s response, and officers reach forward to grab her. She ends up on the ground. Bystanders voice their concern, and again, when Hansen asks to sit up, is granted permission, tries to sit up unassisted and is forced back to the ground by the officers. 

Witness videos can be seen currently on The Baro’s website. 

According to an email sent by OSP Communications Director Mindy McCartt, the OSP aims to release the body cam footage early this week in an effort to be transparent. However, according to ORS 192.355, all faces in the video must be rendered unidentifiable before the footage is released. 

The university released an initial statement on Tuesday via Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing, stating awareness of the incident and an ask of “law enforcement authorities to de-escalate situations involving OSU students.”

Tuesday evening, Clark said in an interview with The Baro that the university believes there was no indication of racial bias in this matter.

On Friday, OSU President Ed Ray sent an all-school email reiterating that OSU has reviewed footage from the event, been in contact with law enforcement and asked for de-escalation practices to be used. He also said the university has asked that local law enforcement policies and practices be examined for evidence of implicit and explicit bias. 

“Let me be clear, this matter is sufficiently troublesome that unless its resolution is satisfactory to OSU, we will reassess the value of continuing a campus law enforcement services agreement with Oregon State Police,” states the letter from Ray.

The letter also says, “we recognize that a comment made earlier this week to a reporter that the university believed there was no indication of bias in this matter was inappropriate, hurt our community and should not have been made, as it added to the challenges of this week. This comment has since been clarified by the university’s spokesman in further statements to the media indicating OSU cannot judge bias based upon the video evidence.”

According to the letter, OSU will continue to look into the situation, provide resources to those affected and meet with community members to work on building safe relationships between law enforcement and students. 

Hansen is a person of color, an identity which some have alleged influenced the way police acted. After Hansen posted videos of her arrest on Twitter, words of support for her and anger at the arresting officers began to pour in.

Johnson said she wants to see the officers involved be evaluated and offer an apology to Hansen. Johnson thinks the incident did not initially seem bad until the officers called for backup and six more officers appeared on the scene.

“I’m baffled at how poorly they acted in the situation,” Johnson said. “You see those videos on Twitter and they upset you, but it’s just online, so it’s not as personal. It felt like one of those, but in real life.” 

Johnson said she would like to see the police force do more to work toward equal treatment and care of the community. 

“They made me feel unsafe in our community, honestly,” Johnson said. 

Hansen was transported to the Benton County Jail after her arrest and subsequently released on citations.



Editor’s note: Original story below

 

Social media backlash spread after an Oregon State University student was arrested on Sunday with what some are calling excessive force.

Genesis Hansen, a fourth-year OSU student and English and philosophy double major, was arrested on charges of interfering with an Oregon State Police officer in the form of refusing to show identification after being pulled over while bicycling, and resisting arrest, according to the Oregon State Police log. During the interaction between Hansen and police, witness Gabby Johnson said she thinks the arresting officers were unnecessarily rough with Hansen, throwing her to the ground during the arrest. Lieutenant Craig Flierl of the Oregon State Police said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on this particular case at this time. 

Oregon State Police contracts with Oregon State University to provide traffic enforcement on campus, extra security and access to resources, according to the OSU Public Safety website. 

Hansen is a person of color, an identity which some have alleged influenced the way police acted. After Hansen posted videos of her arrest on Twitter, words of support for her and anger at the arresting officers began to pour in.

Johnson said she wants to see the officers involved be evaluated and offer an apology to Hansen. The Daily Barometer has not yet been able to attain specific details of the arrest from police, but according to Johnson, Hansen was initially pulled over by an officer for riding her bike on the incorrect side of the street. 

Johnson said she thinks the incident did not initially seem bad until the officers called for backup and six more officers appeared on the scene. According to Johnson, some of the officers were ignoring the bystanders while others were antagonizing people for recording the incident on their phones. 

“There were two grown men, she’s like a five-foot tall, 100-pound girl, and they threw her to the ground,” Johnson said. “We were all screaming and crying in the street, it was really intense.” 

Johnson said the officers were not providing Hansen with the specific laws she was breaking or their personal identification information. 

“I’m baffled at how poorly they acted in the situation,” Johnson said. “You see those videos on Twitter and they upset you, but it’s just online so it’s not as personal. It felt like one of those but in real life.” 

Johnson said she would like to see the police force do more to work toward equal treatment and care of the community. 

“They made me feel unsafe in our community, honestly,” Johnson said. 

Hansen was transported to the Benton County Jail after her arrest and subsequently released on citations.

Bicycles are considered a vehicle under ORS 814.400, meaning police officers can require presentation of identification after lawfully stopping someone on a bicycle. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.