MSU Montana State Police car

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Video of a heated exchange during a traffic stop in Bozeman made the rounds on Facebook over the weekend. But in a rare turn of events for a story like this, there's a happy ending for almost everyone involved.

Krystle Saatjian met with Montana State University Police Chief Frank Parrish on Monday afternoon after she experienced a tense traffic stop the week before.

Last Wednesday, Saatjian was pulled over on Kagy Boulevard, where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Officers claimed to have tracked Saatjian going 48, but she says she remembers looking down to see that she was only going three miles per hour over the speed limit before being pulled over.

Things only became more tense, with Saatjian saying she started to feel targeted as three officers were called in to conduct a routine traffic stop. The difference here, as Saatjian points out in a cell phone video she took, is that she is a black woman.

In the video, one officer, who is white, appears to explains that he called in the other two officers since it appeared Saatjian wasn't comfortable being alone with him.

One of the officers on the traffic stop is Montana State University Police Officer Angela Roundtree. Roundtree can be heard saying in Saatjian's video that she is trying to get out of a citation by bringing up race, playing a "game," and "intimidating" a police officer.

Saatjian repeats multiple times throughout the video that she is concerned about her safety due to the high number of police officers around her for a small violation. Saatjian has lived in Bozeman for ten years and says that while she's experienced profiling because of her race in town before, things had never gotten as heated as they did in last week's incident.

While she didn't receive a ticket, Saatjian says the situation made her feel targeted.

Roundtree has been put on administrative duties, a standard procedure while a police department conducts an internal investigation.

Saatjian and MSU Police Chief Frank Parrish were connected through a mutual friend, sitting down together with a team from the Montana Human Rights Bureau to discuss the incident.

Over an hour later, Saatjian says she walked out of the meeting with her faith in humanity restored. The key? Finding common ground.

"All of us are believers in Jesus and that was something that was our common ground, was to just outline that love for Christ that we had," Saatjian explained in a phone interview after the meeting. "You don't know a person's reality. You don't know what that person has been through, and basically just having grace and sensitivity."

Saatjian said over the weekend that she felt Roundtree's comments were antagonistic and her demeanor was hostile, but admitted that she wasn't proud of the way she conducted herself in the situation and wanted to make it clear that she has the utmost respect for the work police officers do.

She's also painfully aware of how similar situations between authorities and citizens have gone down a darker path, and grateful that this is not one of those times.

"I think with so many other stories, unfortunately, people are closed-minded and they might just come into it with their own bias, and that's, you know, unfortunate," Saatjian explained.

Saatjian says she plans to call the Montana Human Rights Bureau, whom she filed a complaint against the MSU police department with after last week's incident, to drop her complaint. She also adds that she has no plans to bring legal action against the university, police department, or officers involved.

Saatjian says she can't say enough good things about Chief Parrish or Montana State University, and is excited to put the situation behind her. The MSU police department is expected to hold a sensitivity training for its officers in light of the incident.

News For You