Teen girl files claim against police who mistook her for a black male suspect and punched her

Nearly three months later, Tatyana Hargrove still can’t talk about what happened to her on June 18 without tearing up.

It had been a sweltering Sunday when, on a bike ride back from shopping for a Father’s Day gift, Hargrove was suddenly stopped by police officers in Bakersfield, Calif.

The officers had been looking for a suspect — described as a 25- to 30-year-old, bald black man standing 5 feet 10 and weighing about 170 pounds — who had threatened several people with a machete at a nearby grocery store, according to a police report.

Thinking she was that man — and despite her protests — the officers seized on the 5-foot-2, 115-pound Hargrove, in an altercation that escalated until police punched her in the mouth, unleashed a K-9 dog on her and arrested her. It wasn’t until officers placed her in their patrol car that they asked Hargrove’s name and realized she was female — and thus not the suspect they were looking for.

Though police later admitted it was a case of mistaken identity, Hargrove was charged with resisting or delaying an officer and aggravated assault on an officer. It wasn’t until August that those charges against her were dropped, her attorney said.

“It changed me. Very bad,” Hargrove, 19, said last week at a news conference. “My friends tell me I’m different.”

That’s about as far as she was able to get before breaking down crying.