Tatyana Hargrove, 19, has filed a claim against the city of Bakersfield, Calif., saying police used “excessive and unreasonable force” during a June 18 incident in which officers mistook her for a male suspect, unleashed a police dog on her, punched her in the mouth and arrested her, The Washington Post reports.
Police described the suspect as a bald black man, 25 to 30 years old, 5-foot-10 and weighing around 170 pounds, and said he had threatened people with a machete at a grocery store. Hargrove is black but stands 5-foot-2 and weighs 115 pounds. She suffered puncture wounds to her leg from the dog, among other injuries. After putting Hargrove in their cruiser, officers got her name and realized she was clearly not the man they were looking for.
Still, Hargrove, who had been shopping for a Father’s Day present, was charged with resisting or delaying an officer and aggravated assault on an officer. The charges were dropped in August, according to her attorney, Neil K. Gehlawat, The Post reported.
Hargrove, frustrated by a lack of police accountability, filed a claim preceding a lawsuit, which will likely lead to legal action against the city, the Post reported.
During a news conference last week, she could barely speak about the incident without breaking down.
“It changed me. Very bad,” Hargrove said. “My friends tell me I’m different. I hope and I pray this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Gehlawat said filing the claim was the only way they felt they could bring justice in this case.
“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,” Gehlawat said.