Woman maimed by K9 sues for excessive force in Brentwood

Disclaimer: The video in this story is graphic

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KRON) — A federal civil rights lawsuit alleging excessive force has been filed against a Brentwood police officer.

It stems from a shoplifting two years ago that ended in the plaintiff being sued by what the woman’s attorneys call a “bloodthirsty” K9 who mutilated her.

The woman eventually pleaded guilty and served time for the crime, but that shouldn’t have nearly cost her her life.

Talmika Bates was 24 when it happened two years ago and at the time she wasn’t sure she would be alive today to tell her story.

“I have seen death. I feel like if I wasn’t on the phone with her, I would be dead. I would have closed my eyes,” Bates said.

Bates called his mother on the phone while Brentwood police K9 Marco sunk their teeth into his skull on February 10, 2020.

In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on his behalf Tuesday against Marco’s handler, Officer Ryan Rezentes and other unnamed officers possibly involved.

The complaint seeks money for damages, claims:

“In violation of his training and the law, Officer Ryan Rezentes inexplicably killed Marco on the unsuspecting, unarmed young woman without providing any warning or reasonable opportunity to surrender.”

“They didn’t have to do all that because I was unarmed. It’s not like I robbed anybody,” Bates said.

Instead, the lawsuit says police were responding to reports that three young women were shoplifting expensive cosmetic items from a store.

Bates admits to being one of them and was found by police in a nearby field, hiding in a bush.

That’s when his lawyer, Adante Pointer, says Marco was ordered to attack. Pointer says the video proves the dog was unbalanced, out of control, ignoring Rezentes’ delayed commands to stop.

“Once the dog started attacking, gnawing and scratching Mrs. Bates’ scalp, the dog was in the throes of bloodlust,” Pointer said.

Bates was eventually pulled from the bushes and taken to John Muir Medical Center. Surgeons were able to reattach his scalp.

She pleaded guilty to the shoplifting charge and served time in prison.

She is now at home in Oakland, where she is back in school but says she is still haunted by the mutilation.

The police department’s website shows that Officer Rezentes and Marco are still on the ground.

“Yes, it sounds, to me, like what you would imagine and what you’ve seen in movies and documentaries in terms of how slave hunters would unleash these vicious animals on black people,” said Point.

“I’m very lucky to be able to tell this story and that my mom doesn’t have to be here trying to explain what happened to me,” Bates said.

Neither the city nor the police department responded to direct questions from KRON4 for comment on this story.

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