BAKERSFIELD, CALIF - Thousands of strangers across the country are showing their support for Tatyana Hargrove, the 19-year-old who says she was beaten by police in an unprovoked attack in a case of mistaken identity.
As Tatyana Hargrove awaits her first court appearance-and police conduct an internal investigation of the incident, the Bakersfield NAACP is asking for charges to be dropped against Hargrovge-and for the DA's office to press charges against the officers. It's an emotional case with details disputed on both sides.
Within the last three days-a change.org petition created by the Bakersfield NAACP has gotten nearly 12,000 signatures.The petition asks for the two officers involved to be charged by the DA''s office, FBI, and U.S. Attorney's Office-and for city council to approve the budget needed for body cameras. Bakersfield police don't have them-and both police and the NAACP say there's no recording of the encounter Hargrove had with two officers, that resulted in violence and Hargrove being arrested at the hospital.
It happened June 18, Fathers Day. Officers were searching for a machete wielding man described as about 6 foot and 160 pounds, bald, wearing a white shirt, jeans, and carrying a red bag. Thinking she matched the suspect description, Officer Christopher Moore and Senior Officer Vasquez stopped Hargrove, a woman weighing 115 pounds and just 5'2---but police reports state the officers were told over the police radio that the suspect was a black male wearing a white shirt, carrying a pink backpack.
Officers say they mistook Hargrove for a man, and without knowing the suspect's estimated weight or height-or that he was bald- they thought Hargrove, in a white shirt with a red and black backpack, matched the description.
Hargrove says she was punched by officers and attacked by their K-9, unprovoked, after they approached her. Police say they used physical force, and released their K-9 on Hargrove, still thinking she was the male suspect, because she assaulted Officer Vasquez. No weapons were found on the teen-and the suspect she was mistaken for was later arrested.
Hargrove, who has no criminal record, is facing 5 misdemeanor charges, including assault on a peace officer. She is represented by defense attorney David Torres, who requested her arraignment be pushed back two weeks as he does an investigation of his own.
Patrick Jackson of the NAACP says he hopes eyewitnesses come forward. Hargrove has been on television across the country, but she's never been interviewed by a reporter. The only video of her describing her confrontation with police is from the NAACP produced Facebook video.
she declines to be interviewed, Jackson says, because he says she's not in the right mental state. A BPD spokesman also declined our request to speak with the officers involved in the incident.
Jackson says he was contacted by Hargroves family the day of the incident last month and three days later, they began making the video that's now gone viral with nearly 6 million views. The Hargroves have never filed a complaint with police about the incident.
The Bakersfield chapter of the NAACP has also set up a go-fund-me account for Hargrove that's raised about $9,000. The account says the money goes towards her medical bills and counseling.
Meanwhile, Bakersfield Police say the two officers involved in the incident are not on administrative leave. We asked if there are any prior complaints against the officers, but police say legally they can't release personnel records.
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