Brentwood police dog bit second woman in the head, records show
BRENTWOOD, Calif. – WARNING: Intended for an informed public. This story includes disturbing videos and images.
Brentwood Police K-9 bit woman in the head, she says, while hiding in attic a year before same dog ripped off the scalp of a shoplifter hiding in the bushes – an incident that attracted media attention, KTVU learned.
The German Shepherd named “Marco” and his handler made national headlines last month when video of the second horrible attack in February 2020 was made public by KTVU. The woman injured in that case, who was permanently disfigured, filed a federal lawsuit last month against the city of Brentwood and its police department.
But the revelations that Marco bit another woman in the head, who also appeared to be hiding unarmed in a prone position, raise more questions about how the Brentwood Police Department deploys its K-9 unit. The officer wrote in a police report that he believed the woman hit her head on a nail.
GRAPHIC WARNING: Brentwood police dog bites woman hiding in crawl space
The two head bites documented by this particular K-9 come as police departments across the country have come under greater scrutiny over how they use dogs to deal with suspects. A 2020 Marshall Project investigation found that law enforcement often uses dogs on unarmed people with little accountability.
The last disclosed incident involving Marco occurred on January 30, 2019 and, like the second case, was captured on a police body-worn camera. Video shows Christine Niederer, then 33, of Brentwood bleeding from the head, saying she was bitten by the dog inside the cramped crawl space of her home in the 400 block of Edgefield Square. The video does not show the dog biting the woman.
“I’m losing a lot of blood,” Niederer, who is visibly bleeding from his head, says in the video. “The dog bit me. He bit my head.”
Footage of Niederer’s injuries shows bloody punctures on his hands and arms as well as a large jagged gash on the top of his head which doctors then stitched up.
“It was appalling,” Niederer’s mother, Jamie Ramey, said in an interview with KTVU on Friday. “My daughter is ruined. My daughter has PTSD because of this.”
WARNING: These photos are disturbing.
Christine Niederer suffered head injuries after claiming she was bitten by a police K-9 who then bit off parts of another woman’s scalp.
KTVU obtained a police report on the incident through a public records request. It is written by Officer Ryan Rezentes, who is Marco’s handler and was also the officer involved in the 2020 biting of Tamilka Bates, who hid in the bushes after she and her friends robbed about $10,000 in cosmetics from a nearby Ulta beauty store.
In the report, Rezentes said that when he bumped into Marco and Niederer inside the crawl space, he saw the dog bite the woman’s hand and could see blood on her head, which, according to him, came from hitting him on a beam or an exposed nail. of the roof.”
In an interview, Ramey said the officer’s explanation was “ridiculous” and said there was no denying the dog had sunk its teeth into the top of his daughter’s head.
“You don’t get 11 stitches in two places from one nail,” she said.
The mother said her daughter had a history of mental illness and clashed with the law, which included felony convictions. She said that doesn’t excuse the injuries her daughter suffered from the dog.
In a statement Friday, city officials told KTVU that the incident was reviewed by the Brentwood Police Use of Force Committee, which concluded that the K-9 deployment was consistent with the policy and the law in the circumstances.
Rezentes wrote in his report that he had been Marco’s certified handler since 2015. The K-9, Rezentes wrote, is formed “on a search to locate a suspect and bite him until I pull him out of the bite”.
The episode began around 7:40 p.m. that evening when police received a call about a dispute. They immediately recognized the address and had previous meetings with Niederer, who was on probation at the time for felony charges including a weapon.
Rezentes wrote that when he arrived at the scene, he learned that Niederer had had a fight with his significant other, who was moving out. Niederer had threatened his girlfriend and used a folding table to push her out of the garage, hitting her in the shin, the officer wrote.
The woman’s name has been removed from the police report. She refused to receive medical treatment at the scene.
WARNING: These photos are disturbing.
Since being on probation, Niederer has been searched without a warrant. The officers drew their weapons, ordered everyone inside the house to come out, and began to search for Niederer.
During their search, they discover an opening in the ceiling inside the garage leading to the crawl space. The officers order Niederer out before Rezentes says, “Christine, if you’re in the attic, I’ll get my K-9 and send it up there. It’s going to bite you. Get out now.”
He then hoists the dog into the black hole, and it disappears.
Rezentes later explained why he used the dog in his report, saying Niederer’s earlier crime involved a weapon, he believed she was under the influence of alcohol and had a restraining order. against her by the neighbors. He added that he did not know if she was armed at the time.
“If Niederer had nowhere to run, it might activate his natural ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response to a situation,” he wrote. “Thus leading to a fight between her or officers, posing a danger to myself or my cover officers.”
After several minutes without hearing from the dog inside the crawl space, Rezentes entered after him and began crawling on the exposed roof joists.
That’s when he said he heard a woman scream and he knew the dog “was biting.” Rezentes located “Marco” and asked him to release his bite from Niederer’s hand. Officers then lowered her through an opening above a bedroom closet.
“I didn’t hurt anyone,” Niederer says in the video. “I did not do anything.” She later said, “I didn’t deserve this. I did not do anything wrong.
Paramedics then arrived at the house and treated Niederer before she was taken to hospital and then to Martinez prison. She was later charged with injuring a spouse, resisting arrest and violating probation.
Records show that Niederer is currently incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky