A California woman whose scalp was ripped open by a police dog filed a lawsuit claiming police officers used excessive force by allowing the German Shepard to maul her for several minutes even after she begged them to call off the animal.
Talmika Bates said she was paralyzed with fear as a K9 named “Marco” continued to chew on her scalp during the Feb. 10, 2020 shoplifting arrest, according to the complaint filed on Tuesday.
Brentwood Police Officer Ryan Rezentes had to physically remove the dog’s grip from Bates’ scalp after the dog refused to listen to commands at least twice.
The terrifying incident was captured by officers’ body-worn cameras and released by Bates’ attorneys. Bates can be heard screaming in a field among some bushes where she was hiding when the K-9 caught her and gripped her by her scalp.
After a few minutes, Marco finally let go and Bates’ was able to climb out of the bushes with the officers’ help. Her skull was partially exposed as chunks of her scalp and hair flopped on the top of her head.
“My whole brain is bleeding,” a terrified Bates said in the graphic video.
Patrick Buelna, one of Bates’ attorneys, told The Post that the officers’ only response to his client’s gut-wrenching cries for medical assistance was that she “should not have run.”
“Talmika says she still has nightmares of the dog grinding and chewing on her head,” Buelna said. “She says that she felt like she was going to die that day and really did not believe she’d live to tell her story, but is alive and thankful. She had to have her scalp surgically reattached to her head. She suffers severe depression and remains traumatized from the mauling.”
Bates, then 24, ran from police after she and two other women shoplifted about $10,000 worth of cosmetic products from an Ulta Beauty Supply store. The women got into a car and fled the scene, but when police tried to stop them, the suspects ran out of the vehicle.
According to the complaint, Rezentes and the other responding officers did not warn Bates before the K-9 was released and told to go into the bush where Bates was hiding.
“Officers Rezentes and Lou yelled at Ms.Bates to stand up, an impossible task, as leaves and twigs scraped against her open head wounds,” according to the complaint. “Eventually, Officer Lou helped Ms. Bates to her feet and placed her in handcuffs. The Officers berated Ms. Bates for running from police as if getting her head bit and mauled by a vicious canine was a lawful and appropriate punishment for her crimes.”
Bates and her attorneys also claim Rezentes tried to cover up details of the incident and wrote in a police report that there were no officers to cover him, which Rezentes claimed made it difficult for him to physically remove the dog off of Bates.
The attorneys said the videos showed another officer reassuring Rezentes that he would not shoot the dog as it continued to grip Bates’ head.
“Officer Rezentes failed to mention that Marco was out of control,” according to the complaint.
After her arrest, Bates was transported to a local hospital where surgeons reattached her scalp.
Bates said since the violent arrest two years ago, she still suffers from headaches, anxiety and often has nightmares of the dog grinding her scalp.
“My whole brain almost fell out,” Bates said in an interview. “I’m supposed to be dead right now, not alive, and I’m just thankful.
She added she feels “ugly” and “no longer cute” because of her physical wounds.
“I get miserable and depressed,” Bates said.
Brentwood Police still prominently features Marco on their K9 Unit page, which says the German Shepherd is intelligent, very social, and “would love for you to say hi should you see him out and about with Officer Rezentes.”