In all of our years of reporting on severe K-9 police dog attacks, the PBWW website has never covered an incidence as heinous as the following. Officer Ryan Rezentes and his K-9 Marco assaulted an unarmed lady who posed no danger to the police. Talmika Bates' scalp was pulled from her head during the unlawful assault, which occurred without notice.
The incident occurred on Feb. 10, 2020, and body camera video from the event was disclosed this week as part of a lawsuit against the city of Brentwood and the Brentwood police department.
Authorities responded to a shoplifting report at an Ulta store that day, according to police. Bates and two other ladies were accused of robbing the business of several things before fleeing. Bates was hiding in a field behind some shrubs when police came.
Rezentes, the complaint alleges, gave no warning and did not even order Bates to come out of the bushes before squeezing Marco on the unarmed, non-threatening lady.
Though the footage is blurry, the audio indicates that Marco attacked Bates immediately, going directly for her head and tearing her flesh off.
"Aid me! "I'm being bitten by the dog," she shouts. "The whole of my brain is bleeding!"
Rezentes instructed the dog to heel in German, but the dog disobeyed and resumed mauling Bates. The dog tore at Bates' skull for almost another minute while she pleaded for her life.
Rezentes issued the instruction to his dog once again, and the dog disobeyed. Marco continued to rip at Bates' skin while authorities on the scene pleaded with her to exit the bushes.
"We're going to assist you...
However, you should not flee the police," one officer is heard advising Bates, as though having your skin pulled from your head is a reasonable response to fleeing the authorities.
Rezentes was eventually forced to enter the bushes and remove his dog from Bates' head. Bates was left on the ground, "mangled and immobilised by dread," according to the complaint.
"I really believed I was going to die," she said. "I really believed that I would never be able to relate this experience and truly explain it to anybody. It's just traumatic. It's just heartbreaking."
As cops put her in handcuffs, they saw leaves, twigs, and mud adhering to her cranium. Even after she was arrested and had her hair pulled from her head, police continued to chastise Bates for hiding in the bushes, the complaint alleges, "as if having her head chewed and mauled by a violent canine was a legitimate and suitable penalty for her offences."
Following the incident, Bates was transported to the emergency department, where doctors were able to reconnect her scalp.
Bates told FOX 2 that she now feels unattractive and that, despite the fact that her scalp was finally reattached to her head, her hair no longer grows in various areas.
"I feel unattractive," she said. "I get unhappy." I suffer from depression. I'm dissatisfied with myself. I'm not even cute."
Bates, now 26, was sentenced to 120 days in prison after pleading guilty to stealing. She now resides in Oakland as a student. She continues to suffer from headaches, memory loss, and despair, the complaint claims.
Rezentes and Marco are still active members of the force.
"This unfettered use of an apparent bloodthirsty dog to pursue, chase, and ultimately attack a defenceless fleeing lady as she lay in a bush harkens back to the days of slavery and slave catchers," human rights attorney Adante Pointer stated in the lawsuit.
As FOX 2 adds, Pointer expressed his outrage in an interview Wednesday morning that police would deploy an "attack dog" to damage such a "low level criminal" and then "sit casually back" and watch her suffer in misery.
"It's really cruel," Pointer observed. "Clearly, they did not see this individual as a human being."