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

“I hope and I pray this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” she said through tears.

Frustrated with what they say has been a lack of accountability for the officers’ actions, Hargrove is filing a claim against the city of Bakersfield. A precursor to a lawsuit, the claim will almost certainly lead to legal action against the city.

Neil K. Gehlawat, Hargrove’s attorney, said this option was the only way they felt they could bring justice in this case. Only the district attorney’s office or a U.S. attorney’s office has the ability to punish the officers, he added, but there was “virtually zero percent chance” they would.

“Our job is to hold the officers accountable for what happened and all the law allows us to do is to seek money,” Gehlawat said. “But our hope is that, by going through this process and by potentially having this case heard by a jury, that they will send a loud and clear message to the officers in the department that what happened is not appropriate and it should not happen again.”

Bakersfield police spokesman Ryan Kroeker said the department is aware a claim was filed and had been expecting it, but did not comment further. In July, a police spokesman told The Washington Post the department had determined the officers had exercised appropriate use of force on Hargrove.

Gehlawat said the Bakersfield police chief did call Hargrove and her parents to apologize for what happened, but also suggested Hargrove should have complied before complaining.