Due to insufficient evidence, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green dismissed all charges against Tatyana Hargrove, a 19-year-old woman who was attacked by a police K-9 in a case of mistaken identity on Father’s Day, she announced Wednesday.
Hargrove was facing two counts of resisting arrest, one count of willfully interfering with a police K-9, and two counts of assault on a peace officer after she was stopped by two officers who mistook her for a machete-wielding suspect who witnesses said was making threats at a nearby grocery store. The real suspect was arrested a day later.
Hargrove’s story gained national attention after the NAACP Bakersfield Chapter released a video that went viral recounting the incident on Facebook.
“I do not believe we could convince 12 people in our community beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Hargrove committed a crime,” Green said at a press conference Wednesday.
She added, however, that Hargrove was “defiant, uncooperative with officers,” and “handled the encounter very poorly.”
“To paraphrase Chief Martin, so did the officers,” Green said, referring to Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin.
But she seemed to make allowances for the officers. She went through the timeline, explaining that responding officers had the right to detain Hargrove, who was stopped just east of the grocery store and within seven minutes of the initial 911 call.
At that time, they didn’t have a detailed description of the suspect that included height, weight and that the suspect was bald. That didn’t come until about an hour after Hargrove was contacted, Green said.
Then she held up a photo of Hargrove one hour after the incident, her hair pulled tight in cornrows, eyes shut. “This is who the officers saw,” she said.
“It wasn’t until after the incident was over that Ms. Hargrove told the officers that she is a female but likes to dress as a male,” Green said.
Green wouldn’t say whether she agreed that the K-9 should have been deployed.
“Ms. Hargrove was given multiple commands to get off her bike, and eventually she did, but not immediately. She was given multiple commands to put her hands up where they could see them, and eventually she did, but not immediately,” Green said. Then officers made the decision to handcuff Hargrove to search her for weapons.
“From there, it is difficult to determine exactly what happened,” Green said. What she does know, she said, was that Hargrove was scared and thought she was going to die.
“Ms. Hargrove was frightened that Sunday morning. She knew she had not committed a crime, yet she was facing a police officer who was pointing a gun at her and telling her to put her hands in the air. She had never been in a situation like that before. She did not handle that situation correctly.”
NAACP Bakersfield Chapter President Patrick Jackson, who has been acting as a spokesman for Hargrove and her family, said she was relieved when she heard charges would be dismissed.
“It was the right thing to do, but she should have never been charged,” Jackson said. “She was the victim.”