Woman alleges police brutality in Facebook video promoted by Bakersfield NAACP
UPDATE: The Bakersfield Police Department said Wednesday, July 12, that the chief has ordered an internal investigation into these allegations.
The below story was posted Tuesday. At the time, police said they would not conduct an internal affairs investigation.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- Tatyana Hargrove, 19, said she was out in search of a gift for her dad on Father's Day last month when police stopped her during a search for a machete-wielding suspect.
The meeting led to a dispute that ended with Hargrove receiving treatment at Kern Medical for injuries suffered during her arrest.
She was charged with five misdemeanors related to resisting police officers. Another man was arrested later in connection to the machete threats.
A video interview with the family about what they perceive to be evidence of police brutality was produced and promoted on Facebook by Bakersfield's chapter of the NAACP. By Tuesday evening, the widely shared video had been viewed 2.7 million times.
Police Sgt. Ryan Kroeker said Tuesday the incident has been reviewed and will not be forwarded to internal affairs.
"It would be inappropriate for me to talk about the case, because it's been filed," he said. "But I can tell you this, there's always two sides to every story."
Hargrove's clash with police began shortly after a 911 caller near Ming Avenue and Ashe Road reported a man threatening people with a machete. They provided a a description of a black male in a white t-shirt, carrying a pink backpack.
Arriving officers ordered her to surrender her backpack to a search. She questioned the legality of the search.
"He pointed behind and and said, 'Look,'" she said in the video. "I turned around, and there was a big K-9 dog."
Under that threat, Hargrove said she gave up her backpack, but police used force anyway.
"He grabbed me by my neck, punched me, and threw me on the ground, and that's when the K-9 came and started eating at my leg," she said.
The Facebook video lingers on a description of the real suspect that included height, weight and facial hair that those interviewed in the video say should've easily ruled out Hargrove as a suspect.
But that description is not what police were working with when they first arrived to the scene, according to the officer's report.
Dispatchers only told officers to look for a black male in a white shirt carrying a pink backpack. The more detailed description was only developed once police spoke directly with the 911 caller, long after the altercation with Hargrove.
Eyewitness News located the original 911 caller and confirmed this portion of the police report to be true.
But what about the mix-up over Hargrove's gender?
The police report states that she was wearing a hat and appeared to be a male matching the suspect description. The officer wrote that Hargrove told them later in the squad car, "I'm a girl, I just don't dress like one."
He later added that nurses at Kern Medical made the same mistake.
"Each nurse referred to HARGROVE as a male and when I corrected them and advised she was a female they were surprised and apologized for the mistake," the police report reads.
As for the show of force, police confirmed the dog bite and the punch to the face, but disagreed about how they came about, writing that she repeatedly ignored police commands.
"... She spun into the officer with her left shoulder," the report reads. "This sudden movement caused Senior Officer Vasquez' feet to come off the ground and he fell to his back... HARGROVE landed on top of him on her back and quickly turned over on top of Senior Officer Vasquez in a mounting position."
It was at this point that police say she was punched in the face.
"I saw HARGROVE fall on her back to the east of Senior Officer Vasquez but quickly maneuvered her body to get back on top of him," the report reads. "I gave Hamer (the K-9 unit) his command to engage HARGROVE as she was getting back on top of Senior Officer Vasquez."
Eyewitness News reached out to the NAACP seeking a firsthand interview with Hargrove but was told that she would not be speaking to the press.
Bakersfield NAACP President Patrick Jackson said Monday that the organization has not yet attempted to speak with police leadership about the incident, noting that so far they have been "busy with our own investigation."