Brentwood, CA — In all of our years reporting on vicious K-9 attacks by police dogs, the Free Thought Project has never reported on one as gruesome as the following incident. An unarmed woman who was not a threat to police, was unprovokingly attacked by Officer Ryan Rezentes and his K-9 Marco. During the unjustified attack, which took place with zero warning, the victim, Talmika Bates, had her scalp torn from her skull.
The incident took place on Feb. 10, 2020 and the body camera footage was released this week as part of a lawsuit against the city of Brentwood and the Brentwood police department.
According to police, they responded to a shoplifting call at an Ulta store that day. Bates and two other women were suspected of stealing multiple items from the store before leaving. When police arrived on the scene, Bates was hiding in a field behind some bushes.
According to the lawsuit, Rezentes offered up no warning and didn't so much as tell Bates to even come out of the bushes before he sicced Marco on the unarmed, non-threatening woman.
Though the video is grainy, the audio from the recording indicated that Marco instantly began attacking Bates, going straight for her head and ripping off her skin.
"Help me! The dog is biting me," she screams. "My whole brain is bleeding!"
Rezentes told the dog to heel in German but the dog ignored the command and continued to maul Bates. For nearly another entire minute, the dog tore into Bates' head as she begged for her life.
Once more, Rezentes gave his dog the command and, once again, the dog didn't obey. Marco continued to tear into Bates' flesh as officers on the scene demanded she come out of the bushes.
"We're going to help you…but you shouldn't run from the police," an officer is heard telling Bates as if having your skin ripped from your skull is a justified reaction for hiding from cops.
Eventually, Rezentes had to go into the bushes himself to remove his dog from Bates' head. According to the lawsuit, Bates was left on the ground, "mangled and paralyzed with fear."
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"I really thought I was going to die," she said. "I really didn’t think that I was going to be able to tell this story and really explain to nobody. It’s just traumatizing. It's just sad."
Leaves, twigs and dirt were seen sticking to her skull as officers placed her into handcuffs. Even after she was in police custody and her scalp ripped from her head, police continued to berate Bates for hiding in the bushes "as if getting her head bit and mauled by a vicious canine was a lawful and appropriate punishment for her crimes," the suit states.
Bates was rushed to the emergency room after the attack where surgeons were able to reattach her scalp.
Bates told FOX 2, that she feels ugly now and despite the fact that her scalp was eventually sewn back to her head, her hair no longer grows in multiple spots.
"I feel ugly," she said. "I get miserable I get depressed. I'm not happy with myself. I don’t even feel cute."
Bates, now 26, pleaded guilty to shoplifting and spent 120 days in jail. She now lives in Oakland and is a student. According to the suit, she continues to suffer from headaches, memory loss and depression.
Rezentes and Marco are both still on the force.
"This unbridled use of an apparent blood thirsty dog to track, hunt and then attack an unarmed fleeing woman as she lay in a set of bushes harkens back to the days of slavery and slave catchers," civil rights attorneys, Adante Pointer wrote in the suit.
As FOX 2 reports, in an interview Wednesday morning, Pointer added that he was incensed that police would send an "attack dog" to harm such a "low level offender" and then "sit casually back" and watch her suffer in pain.
"It is just so callous," Pointer said. "They obviously didn't see this person as a human."