Police say they mistook a teenage woman for a bald man. She ended up in crutches

Bakersfield, California, police officers mistook Tatyana Hargrove, a 19-year-old woman, as a bald, machete-wielding man.
Bakersfield, California, police officers mistook Tatyana Hargrove, a 19-year-old woman, as a bald, machete-wielding man. Facebook Screenshot via NAACP Bakersfield

Tatyana Hargrove is a black, 19-year-old woman standing at 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds. Douglas Washington was described as a bald, 25- to 30-year-old man, weighing 170 pounds and standing at 5-foot-10.

Hargrove said a Bakersfield, California, police officer punched her in the mouth, a police dog bit her and she was arrested after police said they mistook her for Washington, who was suspected of threatening people with a machete at a grocery store.

Now, the Bakersfield Police chief has ordered an internal investigation into the incident.

The incident happened June 18, according to The Bakersfield Californian, but Hargrove’s story has gathered attention this week after the NAACP’s Bakersfield chapter posted a video about the incident, which has more than 4 million views as of Wednesday night.

Washington is in police custody. The NAACP think the incident was racially motivated.

In the video, Hargrove said she was walking home from a store where she purchased a Father’s Day gift when an officer confronted her. He pulled out his gun as soon as he got out the patrol car she said.

Hargrove said she was then punched in the mouth by an officer and bitten by a K9 released from another officer.

“He (the officer) put his other knee on my head, and I told him, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and I started yelling out: 'Somebody help me, somebody help me, they’re going to kill me,’” Hargrove said in the video, which has gone viral.

She was arrested on suspicion of resisting or delaying an officer and aggravated assault on an officer, according to BPD arrest records reported by The Bakersfield Californian.

A police report given to The Huffington Post showed that Christopher Moore, the officer who arrested Hargrove, gave a slightly different account, but confirmed a few things Hargrove claimed.

The documents show Moore did in fact point his gun at Hargrove as he said “Police K9, put your hands in the air.”

“She turned and looked at me and said, ‘What you all stopping another black person for? I’m out of here,’” the officer wrote in the report obtained by The Huffington Post.

Moore wrote that he told her she “matched the description of a guy that has a machete and just threatened people inside the store. Put your hands up and get off your bike.”

But he thought Hargrove was going to attempt to flee after she put her feet on her bike’s pedals and she said “This isn’t happening. I’m leaving.”

Another officer only identified as Vasquez in the report had arrived with a police dog at this point. Vasquez approached Hargrove and grabbed her hands. Hargrove then “spun into” Vasquez, and he fell and became tangled in the bike.

Moore said in the report that Vasquez punched Hargrove “one time in the mouth in an attempt to force her off of him,” and that it initially “received the desired effect” but she “quickly maneuvered her body to get back on top of” Vasquez again.

Moore then decided that he’d release the dog since she matched the suspect’s description and “had decided to assault Senior Officer Vasquez instead of just trying to run or escape on her bicycle.”

Hardgrove reportedly tried to fight the dog off, but she was subdued and arrested. In the back of the police patrol car, Moore asked her name, to which she replied with her first name.

“Don’t lie to me, that’s a girl’s name. What is your name?” Moore asked.

“I’m a girl, I just don’t dress like one,” she said.

“This was when I first discovered she was a female,” Moore wrote in his report.