Charges dropped against black teenager, but no explanation for how she was mistaken for man wielding machete
Tatyana Hargrove is not a 5’10”, 170 pound bald man with a goatee.
But that didn’t stop Hargrove, a 5’2″, 120 pound 19-year-old, from being arrested by Bakersfield, California police on June 18, even though the person cops were looking for was older, taller, heavier, and a different gender.
The only similarity between Hargrove and the man police were looking for, Douglas Washington, is that they are both black. Washington was later arrested.
Hargrove was charged with resisting arrest and use of force against a police officer even after officers realized she was not the man they were looking for. The Bakersfield NAACP took up Hargrove’s cause, generating national attention.
Hargrove’s ordeal ended earlier this month when, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green announced that her office was dropping all charges.
Green acknowledged law enforcement would need to repair trust with the minority community, with many outraged over what Hargrove had been put through.
However, Green defended the officers who arrested Hargrove, saying they only knew they were looking for a black man with a backpack. None the officers will face charges or any discipline.
In July Hargrove told her story on Facebook. According to Hargrove, she was riding her bike when she stopped to get a drink of water and get out of the 100 degree heat for a few minutes. Suddenly she was surrounded by three police cars, and one police officer was pointing a gun at her.
According to the Washington Post “What followed, according to both Hargrove and police, was a case of mistaken identity and an altercation in which police punched Hargrove in the mouth, unleashed a police K-9 dog on her and arrested her.”
Officer were actually looking for Washington, who’d threatened several people with a machete at a nearby grocery store. But police believed Hargrove was a man, and suspected the machete was in her backpack, according to a police report.
“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,” wrote the arresting officer.
Police say Hargrove resisted arrest, and department officials have said officers used the appropriate use of force on Hargrove.
Hargrove, in her Facebook account of what happened, denies resisting arrest or disobeying the instruction of police. She said police punched her and threw her on the ground before turning a police dog on her.
It is unclear why police thought Hargrove matched the description of the suspect.