Tatyana Hargrove was biking home after picking out a Father’s Day gift when she stopped for a drink of water in the 103 degree heat. When she turned around, three Bakersfield, California police cars surrounded her.
The 19-year old told her story in a viral Facebook video shared by the Bakersfield NAACP. Officers “mistook” Hargrove, a 5’2″, 115lbs “soaking wet”, 19 year old girl with braids — for a 5′ 10″, 170lb bald black man with a goatee who was allegedly threatening people with a machete outside a nearby grocery store.
“She appeared to be a male and matched the description of the suspect that had brandished the machete and was also within the same complex the suspect had fled to,” Christopher Moore, the arresting officer, wrote in a police report obtained by the Bakersfield Californian.
In the Facebook video, Hargrove, on crutches, describes how police demanded she hand over her backpack for a search. When she asked if they had a warrant, one officer pointed to a police dog. She says she was frightened and told them to take it. “I then got scared and then I was like, here, take the backpack, just take the backpack.”
Hargrove alleges that even though she complied, police grabbed her wrist and then punched her and threw her to the ground. An officer pinned her down with his knees while the K-9 “came and started eating at my leg.” She screamed for help. “I told him ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and then I started yelling out, ‘Somebody help me, somebody help me! They’re gonna kill me!’”
Arresting officers have a different story. Officer Moore’s police report states that Hargrove tried to flee the scene after he pointed his firearm at her. “She turned and looked at me and said, ‘What you all stopping another black person for? I’m out of here,’” the officer wrote.
He claims that another officer approached the young lady and grabbed her hands to “gain control of her,” but she maneuvered around him, causing him to fall and become tangled in the bike before she “quickly turned over on top of Senior Officer Vasquez in a mounting position.” Moore acknowledged that Officer Vasquez punched Hargrove “one time in the mouth in an attempt to force her off of him,” before the dog was released.
Police claim they didn’t know Hargrove was a girl until after she was handcuffed. “I asked what her name was and when she provided it as ‘Tatyana’ I said, ‘Don’t lie to me, that’s a girl’s name. What is your name?’” Moore says. “I’m a girl, I just don’t dress like one,” she responded.
Hargrove was arrested and charged with suspicion of resisting or delaying an officer and aggravated assault on an officer. No weapons were found in her backpack.
A Change.org petition has been created to have Hargrove’s charges dismissed, and a GoFundMe page is raising money for her medical bills and legal fees.
What can we do to prevent more situations like this from happening?