Bakersfield, CA – The former McDonald’s employee who allegedly smeared a uniformed Bakersfield police officer’s hamburger bun on the floor and then spit on it will stand trial on a felony charge of willfully poisoning food.
On Thursday, the judge found there was insufficient evidence to support an additional charge of misdemeanor battery, and ultimately dismissed the count.
Hargrove’s former co-worker, Herman Trevino, was also charged for failing to stop her from serving the tainted food after he witnessed her actions, KGET.
The felony charge against Trevino was dismissed in exchange for his testimony in Hargrove’s upcoming trial.
Hargrove was arrested on Nov. 15, 2019, after managers at the Bakersfield McDonald’s restaurant became aware of the incident as they were reviewing security footage from inside the business, the New York Post reported.
They turned the incriminating footage over to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
According to investigative reports, the video showed Hargrove wiping the uniformed officer’s hamburger bun on the restaurant floor before she spit on it, KGET reported.
She then yelled, “Black lives matter! F–k the pigs!” according to courtroom testimony.
Hargrove subsequently allowed the order to be served to the unsuspecting officer, who was in full uniform waiting in the drive-thru line in a marked patrol vehicle.
Hargrove’s attorney, Lexi Blythe, said that prosecutors couldn’t prove that Hargrove exposed the officer to any harmful chemicals because it was unknown when the floor had last been cleaned with such products, according to KGET.
Blythe further argued that Hargrove’s back was turned to the camera when she allegedly spit on the officer’s food, and said there was no evidence to support that portion of the allegations.
But according to prosecutor Gina Pearl, one of Hargrove’s fellow employees heard her draw saliva into her mouth as she was making the officer’s food, KGET reported.
The video also showed her wiping her mouth with her arm after the moment when she allegedly spit on his meal.
Pearl said that saliva undoubtedly qualifies as a “harmful substance,” KGET reported.
“Look at what’s going on in the world right now with the coronavirus,” she pointed out.
The officer did not feel ill after he ate the food, nor did he go to a hospital, KGET reported.
Restaurant owner Jim Abbate denounced Hargrove’s actions in a statement shortly after her arrest.
“I want to ensure our customers and law enforcement that the behavior exhibited by the individual involved in this incident does not represent my values nor those of my McDonald’s business,” Abbate said, according to the New York Post.
“When we found out about this disturbing incident, we quickly notified the police,” Abbate added. “We are cooperating with their investigation and want law enforcement to know they are always welcome at McDonald’s.”
According to the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD), the officer targeted in the incident was also involved in a failed lawsuit Hargrove had previously filed against the department, The Bakersfield Californian reported.
The lawsuit stemmed from an altercation that occurred on June 18, 2017, according to KGET.
Bakersfield police were searching for a man who allegedly brandished a machete outside a local grocery store when they spotted Hargrove riding her bike in the area.
Bakersfield Police Officer Christopher Moore said that he initially believed Hargrove was a male, and that she matched much of the description that had been provided regarding the armed suspect.
The suspect was described as a “black male, white shirt, carrying a pink backpack,” Officer Moore said, according to KGET.
According to the lawsuit, Officer Moore drew his duty weapon and ordered Hargrove to hand over her backpack.
She refused, and demanded to know if the officers had a warrant.
Another officer stepped in to detain Hargrove as she straddled her bicycle, but she interlaced her fingers behind her head, KGET reported.
She also allegedly kicked at the officers, according to KGET.
When the officer grabbed onto her hands, he tripped and fell to the ground, Officer Moore wrote in his incident report.
Hargrove then fell on top of the officer who was trying to detain her, at which point Officer Moore deployed his K9.
Hargrove was bitten by the K9 and taken into custody on charges of interfering with a police dog, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest.
Approximately an hour later, officers learned that the suspect they had been searching for was a bald male who stood approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed about 160 pounds, KGET reported.
Hargrove was 5 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighed 120 pounds, according to the New York Post.
The machete-wielding suspect was later apprehended by police, KBAK reported.
The BPD said that the incident with Hargrove stemmed from a case of mistaken identity, The Bakersfield Californian reported.
Then-Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green ultimately dismissed the criminal charges against Hargrove, and said that both the suspect and the officers handled the altercation poorly, according to KGET.
Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin agreed, and apologized to Hargrove and her family, The Bakersfield Californian reported.
In her lawsuit, Hargrove claimed that the officers ripped her off of her bike, threw her to the ground, and punched her in the face before they deployed the K9.
She alleged that the officers used excessive force and violated her civil rights, and requested that the court award her compensatory and punitive damages.
The Bakersfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) backed Hargrove in her lawsuit, and alleged that the incident was racially motivated.
On Oct. 18, 2019, a federal jury in Fresno rendered a verdict in favor of the city, and refused to award Hargrove damages, KGET reported.
She subsequently waived her right to appeal the jury’s decision in exchange for the city agreeing not to seek repayment of its legal fees.