A Black woman was mauled in 2020 by a Brentwood police dog after resisting arrest for shoplifting. The California native has filed a lawsuit claiming officers used excessive force when siccing the canine on her that February afternoon.
According to a Facebook post by the Brentwood Police Department, Talmika Bates, 24, and three other persons were said to have stolen $10,000 worth of merchandise from the Ulta Beauty Supply (in the Streets of Brentwood Shopping Center).
The three women, including Keilaysha Usher, 24, and Ramiah Armstrong, 22, met up with Adrian Benton Jr., 21, in a nearby getaway car to “flee the scene.” All four have been apprehended and brought into custody.
Brentwood Police Department officer identified Benton’s car at a nearby major intersection after it sped through a red light.
He tried to block the car with his vehicle, but instead of stopping, Benton rammed the car into the front end of the patrol car. The car attempted to drive away, but while fleeing the scene collided into a street curb. After the crash, all four of the suspects ran.
But before Bates was detained by the arresting officers, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Northern California by the woman, she was found hiding in some bushes. One of the officers, Officer Ryan Rezentes, allowed his police dog, Marco ze Zeliner Uzlabint (nicknamed “Marco”), to viciously attack her without warning.
Marco has been trained for basic patrol work, tracking and narcotics detection, and has been under the command of Rezentes since 2015.
During this altercation, the dog mauled the woman’s head so savagely that her scalp had to be reattached to her head, the lawsuit reveals.
Bates claims in the lawsuit that Rezentes’ German Shepherd “sunk its teeth into the unarmed woman’s head.”
The document further alleges that Rezentes “ignored Ms. Bates’ chilling screams” and “stood by and watched his canine viciously maul the young victim,” in an altercation that led to her scalp being torn off her head and “exposing bone and tissue.”
Bates was on the phone with her mother during the incident and could be heard on the officer’s bodycam crying to her, “The dog’s biting me” and then later saying, “My whole brain is bleeding.”
During this time Rezentes shouted the command to “heel” in German, but the dog ignored him twice.
Eventually, Rezentes goes into the bushes and he physically stops Marcos’ attack on Bates.
According to the bodycam video, she told the officer that she didn’t expect the dog to bite her and he responded, “Well, you shouldn’t run from the police.”
The lawsuit notes that this is important to the case. It also notes that Bates should have been warned and that Rezentes was in violation of his training and the law when he sicced Marco on the woman without any warning or a reasonable opportunity to surrender.
Bates was taken to the John Muir Medical Center Walnut Creek to be treated for her injuries.
The police report, prepared by the officer, says that he didn’t have a cover officer with him to physically remove the dog from Bates. However, Rezentes’ partner was next to him. The partner’s body camera captures a conversation between the two, as they stand side by side, a conversation about whether he would shoot the dog. The partner assures him he would not.
In January 2021, Bates pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of grand theft (from shoplifting) and resisting a police officer. She spent 120 days incarcerated and is currently on probation for a year. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office states, according to records, that her restitution amount has not yet been set.
Bates is seeking monetary damages from the City of Brentwood in her lawsuit. She alleges that Rezentes used excessive force and violated her constitutional rights when he sicced Marco on her. The incident, the claim states, has caused her headaches, memory loss and depression.
One of her lawyers, Adante Pointer, said to The Washington Post, “This is an example of the way in which police do not look at Black and Brown people, or criminal suspects, as humans. Instead, they are numb to … the pain their use of excessive force causes.”
Despite the controversial attack, where the animal did not obey the commands of his handler, the department website states that Marcos continues to serve on the force and two years later Rezentes remains his training officer.
The dog is listed as a “wonderful asset to the department.”
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