The arrest of a 21-year-old woman who may have been riding her bicycle on the wrong side of the road has led to concerns about Oregon law enforcement’s use of force and “implicit and explicit bias.”
Oregon State Police trooper Kelly Katsikis stopped Oregon State University student Genesis Hansen for riding the wrong way Sunday afternoon on Northwest 16th Street in Corvallis.
Hansen and Katsikis engaged in a lengthy discussion on the side of the street, with Hansen reportedly questioning the trooper’s right to ask for her identification. A crowd began to form to watch and film the interaction, leading the trooper to call for back-up. After Corvallis police officer Donald Sheldon arrived on the scene, Hansen asked whether she might have been stopped because of her race.
“I am an African American, mixed woman … and I will say that men who are in police uniforms often abuse their power,” she told Katsikis, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times’ Bennett Hall, who reports he reviewed the trooper’s body-camera footage.
The discussion between the officers and Hansen remained calm but continued for close to half an hour, until Katsikis finally said:
“I need you to either give me your identification now or you are going to be under arrest. Do you understand that?”
Hansen responded: “I don’t answer questions.”
The officers then moved to take her arms, and Hansen stepped backward and fell to the ground.
“Whoa!” gasped a woman who was shooting video of the incident. “No!”
“Don’t touch her!” yelled another witness.
The officers, crouched over Hansen, told witnesses to stay back but some of them continued to inch forward.
“She’s a young woman, you do not need to be on top of her,” one woman called out. “She is not resisting. You are so much bigger than her. This type of force is not necessary.”
“I’m not moving,” Hansen, face-down on a grassy stretch next to the sidewalk, told the crowd. “I’m not moving. They say I’m resisting. I’m not moving.”
“I just have a question,” one witness asked.
“Not right now, OK,” the Corvallis police officer responded. “We’ll get someone to answer your questions in a minute, all right?”
That still wasn’t the end of it. Hansen, her arms handcuffed behind her back, asked to sit up, and the officers said that was fine. She began to roll toward the curb.
“Here, we’re going to help you,” one of the officers said.
“I don’t need your help,” Hansen said as she frantically scooted to the curb. “I can sit up myself. I asked to sit up by myself.”
The officers ignored her, pulled her upright and hefted her back onto the grass. She was now face-down again.
“That force is unnecessary,” someone called out.
“Please let me sit up by myself,” Hansen said.
“No,” one of the officers replied.
“You are an abuser!” a witness hissed.
“We are being gentle,” Sheldon told the crowd.
“No, you are not being gentle,” someone responded.
One of the witness videos ends with Hansen looking up at the camera and beseeching: “I need assistance.”
Hansen, who was arrested on charges of interfering with an officer and resisting arrest, has refused multiple media requests to be interviewed.
Oregon State University, after school officials reviewed the witness videos and officer body-camera footage, said in a statement: “We remain concerned about what was portrayed occurring in the video. And we have asked that law enforcement policies and practices by Oregon State Police — and other local law enforcement agencies — be examined for evidence of implicit and explicit bias.”
The university also said it had offered “support services” to Hansen and added: “Going forward, we ask law enforcement authorities to de-escalate situations involving OSU students.”
The Oregon State Police said in a statement that the “matter is currently under review. It is a standard practice for our agency to review all Use of Force Incidents. This incident is currently going through that process and criminal charges have been referred to the Benton County District Attorney’s Office.”
On Sunday, Hansen tweeted: “I was wrongfully arrested today and I am going to hold those people accountable.”
Two days later she retweeted a post that stated: “I can’t stand people that play the victim in situations they created.”
— Douglas Perry
(c)2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.