Shoplifter Talmika Bates, whose scalp was ripped open by police dog, sues for excessive force
The article contains graphic footage
A California woman has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the police after her scalp was ripped open by a K9 officer who mauled her for several minutes.
Talmika Bates filed the complaint on Tuesday, February 22, saying she was paralyzed with fear and begging the cops to call off the German Shepherd named 'Marco' who continued to chew on her scalp during a February 10, 2020 shoplifting arrest. The police dog reportedly refused to listen to commands at least twice and Brentwood Police Officer Ryan Rezentes had to physically remove Marco's grip from Bates’ scalp. The disturbing incident was captured on police body cameras and the footage has now been made public by Bates' attorneys, the New York Post reported.
In the clip, Bates is heard screaming in a field among some bushes where she was hiding when the K9 officer tracked her down and grabbed her by her scalp. Marco finally let go after several minutes and Bates was able to climb out of the bushes with the officers' help. She soon realized that her skull was partially exposed as chunks of her scalp and hair were seen flopping on the top of her head in the graphic video. “My whole brain is bleeding,” Bates remarked, terrified.
Speaking to The Post, Patrick Buelna, a lawyer representing Bates, said the officers' only response to his client's cry for help was that she "shouldn't have run." Buelna continued, “Talmika says she still has nightmares of the dog grinding and chewing on her head. 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, who was 24 at the time of the incident, evaded the authorities after she and two other accomplices shoplifted about $10,000 worth of cosmetic products from an Ulta Beauty Supply store. The trio subsequently got into a car and fled the scene. However, when police tried to stop them, the women ran out of the vehicle.
3 women, Keilaysha Usher, Talmika Bates & Ramiah Armstrong busted for stealing $10K in merch from @ultabeauty at @ShopStreetSmart, crashing SUV into cop car, running away & trying to escape w/help by Adrian Benton, per #BrentwoodPD. @AntiochPolice @CityofOakley assisted pic.twitter.com/LyeQPoAk1X— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) February 11, 2020
Bates wasn't warned before Rezentes and the other responding officers unleashed the K9 on her, according to the complaint. “Officers Rezentes and Lou yelled at Ms.Bates to stand up, an impossible task, as leaves and twigs scraped against her open head wounds,” the complaint states. “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.”
Meanwhile, Bates and her legal team have also accused Rezentes of trying to cover up details of the incident after he wrote in a police report that there were no officers to cover him, which made it difficult for him to physically pull the dog off of her. According to the attorneys, the videos showed another officer reassuring Bates he wouldn't shoot the dog as it continued to grip the woman's head. “Officer Rezentes failed to mention that Marco was out of control,” the complaint alleges.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Bates was transported to a local hospital following her arrest. Surgeons had to reattach her scalp. In a recent interview, she said she still suffers from headaches, anxiety and often has nightmares of the dog chewing on her scalp. “My whole brain almost fell out,” Bates told KTVU. “I’m supposed to be dead right now, not alive, and I’m just thankful." She added that she often became "miserable and depressed" because her wounds made her feel "ugly." That said, Marco is still prominently featured on Brentwood Police's K9 Unit page. The German Shepherd is described as intelligent, social, and "would love for you to say hi should you see him out and about with Officer Rezentes," The Post reported.