Judge orders woman to stand trial for allegedly tampering with officer's food at McDonald's

The judge also dismissed a misdemeanor charge of assault that had been filed against the woman

Stacey Shepard
The Bakersfield Californian

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A judge on Thursday ordered a woman to stand trial on a felony charge of willful poisoning of a Bakersfield police officer at a Rosedale McDonald's in November but dismissed a misdemeanor charge of assault that had been filed against her.

Judge Larrie R. Brainard said there were "substantial questions" as to the poisoning charge during the hearing but he felt there was enough evidence to believe a crime may have occurred based on video shown by the prosecution in which the woman, Tatyana Hargrove, 21, wiped food on the floor that she was preparing for a drive-thru order. She is also accused of spitting on the food, but it wasn't evident in the video because Hargrove's back was to the camera.

At the hearing, a codefendant in the case, Herman Trevino, a McDonald's employee at the time of the incident, agreed to a deal with prosecutors in which the felony willful poisoning charge filed against him would be dismissed in return for his testimony against Hargrove at trial.

During the hearing, prosecutor Gina Pearl called three Kern County Sheriff's deputies to the stand. Deputy Carly Snow said Trevino told her in an interview after the incident that he heard Hargrove drawing spit into her mouth, and that she said, "(expletive) the pigs, black lives matter" before spitting onto a hamburger patty. On cross-examination, Snow said she spoke to the BPD officer who ate the burger about two weeks after the incident and he reported no sickness from the incident. Asked if he tested positive for diseases like HIV or hepatitis, Snow said she wasn't aware he had.

Another deputy called to the stand said the floor cleaner used at McDonald's contained poison warnings but on cross-examination he said he didn't know if the chemical was diluted when used, how often it's used and whether it was even used at the McDonald's to clean the floors the day of the incident.

Deputy public defender Lexi Blythe argued that the charges were based on speculation. The video didn't show Hargrove actually spit on the food as her back was to the camera, Blythe said.

"It's all speculation that there is a harmful substance touched to the food, which is necessary for this charge," Blythe said.

However, Pearl argued that there was testimony from Trevino that Hargrove spit on the food.

"My position is saliva is absolutely a harmful substance. Look what's going on in the world right now with coronavirus," Pearl said.

She also pointed to felony charges that can be filed when an inmate spits on a corrections officer.

The judge specifically questioned Pearl about her reasoning for the misdemeanor battery charge.

Pearl responded: "She touched the person of (the police officer) through her spit so I think that's a simple battery."

"I'm afraid I don't," the judge replied. "There has to be an assault, not simply a passing along of something that might hurt you."

The judge said he had substantial questions about the willful poisoning charge but would order Hargrove to stand trial on it since there was evidence in the video that she did rub the hamburger buns on the floor.

Hargrove is free on $10,000 bail.

Hargrove recently lost an excessive force and civil rights case against the city of Bakersfield stemming from an incident in 2017 in which Bakersfield police mistakenly thought she was a male suspect they were searching for and arrested her, deploying a police dog that caused her injuries as they took her into custody.

©2020 The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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