BRENTWOOD, Calif. - Over the course of two months, KTVU reviewed police dog bite data from across the Bay Area and focused on more than a dozen cases, looking at the injuries and the reasons the canines attacked.
Sometimes, the people were suspected of minor crimes.
In several cases, the people bitten were not the ones police were looking for.
Cities were forced to pay excessive force settlements to those injured in many of the cases. In two-thirds of the cases, those bitten were people of color.
There has never been any legislation proposed or passed in California to regulate K-9s, which are deployed with little consequence.
Here's a closer look at some of their stories:
WARNING: The pictures below are graphic and disturbing.
Tamilka Bates was bitten by a K9 named Marco in Brentwood.
Talmika Bates, Brentwood
Her civil rights attorneys, Adante Pointer and Patrick Buelna, filed a federal lawsuit in March 2022 alleging that the city and police department caused her severe injury because of police negligence and violation of policy.
Brentwood police countered they were going after felony shoplifting suspects and that Bates’ boyfriend had allegedly rammed their car earlier.
The city of Brentwood determined this K-9 deployment was within policy.
Bates pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and spent nearly four months in jail.
The hair has not still not fully grown back on her head. She is in therapy because of the attack.
A lawsuit is pending.
Christine Niederer was bitten by a Brentwood police dog named Marco.
Christine Niederer, Brentwood
Marco the Brentwood K-9 police dog bit Christine Niederer on Jan. 30, 2019, on the head as she lay tucked inside a cramped crawlspace in her home on the 400 block of Edgefield Place. She was not armed.
Pictures of Niederer’s wounds show bloody punctures on her hands and arms along with a large jagged gash on the top of her head that doctors later stitched closed.
In a statement, city officials told KTVU the incident was reviewed by the Brentwood Police Use of Force Committee which found the deployment of the K-9 to be within policy and law under the circumstances.
Adam Gabriel, a Marine Corps veteran, was bitten by a police dog after deputies mistakenly thought he was a car thief.
Adam Gabriel, Cotati
Adam Gabriel, a Marine Corps veteran, sued Sonoma County sheriff's deputies after they released a police dog on him after they wrongly detained him on suspicion of carjacking.
Deputies detained him because he was driving a green Subaru, which was similar to a car involved in an armed carjacking that occurred nearby.
But it turned out that another man had taken the car.
And the carjacking victim also mistakenly identified Gabriel's car as the same one the real suspect had driven.
So when deputies caught up with Gabriel, they commanded him to crawl towards them. Instead, he dropped to his knees, holding his hands up in the surrender position.
At that point, a deputy deployed his dog to run toward Gabriel, which jumped on him and bit his bicep.
Gabriel is seen rolling around on the ground, screaming: "What crime have I committed? I am a Marine Corps veteran and I have committed no crime."
A lawsuit is pending.
A Sonoma County Sheriff's dog, Vader, bites Jason Angelero-Wyrick.
Jason Angelero-Wyrick, Graton
A Sonoma County sheriff's K-9 handler was disciplined after he failed to stop his dog from continuing to bite a Graton man well after the man had been handcuffed, according to the findings of an internal affairs use-of-force investigation, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
Internal affairs investigators found Deputy Jeremy Jucutanl had followed the department’s policies in deciding to deploy his dog, Vader, and had not used excessive force while arresting Jason Angelero-Wyrick in April 2020.
But they sustained an allegation that he did not follow the department’s rules regarding a handler’s duty to make sure K-9’s release a suspect when they are in custody and no longer a threat.
Video showed Anglero-Wyrick raising his hands in the air as he fell to the ground after being tased.
Bystander video showed that the dog’s jaws remained clamped to Anglero-Wyrick’s leg for about a minute after he’d already been detained. A woman screams for the dog to stop.
The investigation also determined that the initial accusations made in a 911 call that prompted deputies to arrest Anglero-Wyrick were baseless.
The District Attorney ultimately dropped all charges against him.
A Facebook group has been created to support Angelero-Wyrick and other victims of dog bites.
Jesse Porter, Hayward
The city of Hayward paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an elderly man who died less than two months after a police dog mistakenly attacked him in his own backyard.
A few days after Jesse Porter, 89, was bitten on the left calf by the dog, his leg developed gangrene and was amputated above the knee. He died in a rehabilitation center less than two months later.
The city contended that Porter was lying unconscious in bushes behind his mobile home, and the dog mistook him for the suspect it was tracking on the night of May 20, 2011.
The attack occurred while three officers, including Nicky’s handler, Officer Loring Cox, were using the dog to search for a suspect after an armed robbery at a Dominos’ Pizza in west Hayward, according to the lawsuit. The dog tracked the scent to an industrial park, which shares an 8-foot-tall wall with the Hayward Mobile Country Club mobile home park, where Porter lived.
Porter was in his backyard on the other side of the wall.
"The dog then brutally and relentlessly mauled Mr. Porter, biting his left leg and maintaining the bite while dragging (Porter’s) body across the ground," the suit says. The dog’s bite left a gaping hole in the calf muscle.
Richard May, then 64, was bitten by a San Mateo County Sheriff's dog while trespassing to help find a neighbor's cat.
Richard May, Half Moon Bay
A 64-year-old Half Moon man who was bitten by a police dog while trying to rescue a friend's cat at a construction site was awarded $1.1 million by a civil jury in 2017.
Jurors ruled that San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies used excessive force in deploying the German shepherd named Riggs in January 2015.
The award came after two days of deliberations in the case of Richard Earl May Jr., who entered a fenced construction site to retrieve the cat for his 72-year-old friend and triggered an alarm.
The lawsuit said deputies Chris Laughlin, Eric Michel and John Sanchez allowed the dog, Riggs, to bite May's legs, causing wounds requiring stitches and long-lasting injuries.
May, who was detained and questioned for trespassing on the property, ultimately did not face any criminal charges. His attorney said he did not resist arrest or try to run away and was no threat to the deputies.
Two 18-year-old teens, Oakland
Oakland Police Officer Matt Neff used excessive force when he allowed his police dog to maim two 18-year-old men during a search for armed robbery suspects in East Oakland in 2019, according to discipline records released to the public.
The internal police investigation also determined that Neff's supervisor, Sgt. Alan Leal, contributed to the wounds suffered by the teen by telling Neff to keep his canine "on the bite."
Neff’s dog, Bas, bit one of the young men for two minutes and 24 seconds, chewing his right leg to the bone, according to OPD records.
One teenager was hospitalized for three weeks and needed surgery and a skin graft to repair an eight-inch wound. Bites to the other 18-year-old required five staples on his scalp. His neck, shoulder, hand and thighs were also pierced by the dog’s teeth, in bites lasting a minute and 24 seconds.
Neither of the 18-year-olds were charged with a crime.
Joel Allejo of Mountain View still has police dog bite wounds on his legs.
Joel Alejo, Palo Alto
The city of Palo Alto paid $135,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Joel Alejo, a handyman who was sleeping in the backyard of his Mountain View home when was attacked and repeatedly bitten by police dog named Balko in June 2020.
Palo Alto police were assisting Mountain View officers in searching for a kidnapping suspect when they stumbled across Alejo. Alejo was not the right person and had been sleeping on his own property.
The dog’s handler, police Agent Nick Enberg, failed to announce himself before going into the backyard.
An internal review determined Enberg was justified in ordering the dog to bite.
TJ Murray, Palo Alto
Another police bit Palo Alto high shool student TJ Murray in 2016 near a 7-Eleven store at Bryant Street and Bryant Court.
The dog escaped the patrol cruiser and bit Murray in the right thigh and hip as he stood with his hands up, according to a lawsuit filed by the boy’s family.
The city settled the case in 2018 for $250,000.
Jennifer Fink-Carver and Jason Fink, Pleasant Hill
Jennifer Fink-Carver and her brother Jason Fink sued Pleasant Hill and Officer Kuhn stemming from a disturbing the peace call on May 9, 2020.
According to Fink-Carver, she was slammed into a couch and a K-9 bit her repeatedly on her legs, causing serious injury. She went to a trauma center and she underwent complex repair of lacerations to her thigh. During the fight, her brother came home and asked what was happening.
"Without cause or justification," officers took her brother to the ground and released the K-9 on him, biting his low back, hip and leg. He was handcuffed for no reason, according to the suit. They both suffered serious and permanent injuries.
However, the city’s attorneys said that Pleasant Hill police were sent to their home because of a family fight between Fink-Carver and her fiance, Gary Aramas.
Aramas had called police to say Fink-Carver punched him in the eye four to five times after he punched the TV set, breaking it.
Aramas’ sister arrived and also jumped into the fight.
"There was some indication to officers that a firearm could be in the residence," the city attorneys wrote.
Fink-Carver refused to come out of the house, despite "numerous commands" including the fact that they had a police dog, the suit states.
Fink-Carver physically resisted officers and refused to remove her hand from her waistband where a weapon could be concealed in her loose fitting clothing, the city contends.
"The canine was deployed and made contact with her which allowed officers to control her," the suit states. Her brother arrived and also refused to comply with officer commands to stay back. As a result, the "police canine was deployed and made contact with him." Officers said they found a pistol in the bedroom.
Fink admitted he grabbed the police canine by the mouth and called the dog a "bitch."
8-year-old boy, Richmond
Richmond police were searching for a suspected gang member who fled from officers and barged into a neighbors’ apartment.
The neighbors’ two young sons were asleep somewhere inside.
When the suspect was discovered hiding under a bed, the police dog, Odin, mistakenly attacked an officer, the suspect and an 8-year-old boy, a Bay Area News Group investigation revealed.
The boy was treated for puncture wounds to his head; the officer for wounds to his arm.
Police accused the suspect of using the boy as a human shield.
An internal review supported the use of force, but recommended more joint training between gang and canine units.
Anthony Paredes was hiding in a trash bin when Tex, a San Jose police dog, bit his neck for a minute in February 2020.
David Tovar, San Jose
The family of David Tovar sued San Jose police after officers shot and killed him – and had a police dog bite him for his last remaining minutes – on Jan. 21, 2020.
Police had been looking for Tovar, 27, calling him a "person of interest" in a homicide and shootings in Gilroy.
Tovar was also wanted for weapons violations in San Jose and a shooting at Galvan Park in Morgan Hill.
No matter what he was accused of, his family's lawyers said killing him was unnecessary and that his "last moments were a painful, agonizing and torturous death."
"Mr. Tovar lay on the ground bleeding to death from the gunshot wounds for at least two minutes without providing any medical care," the lawsuit states. "Then an Officer inexplicably unleashed his police canine to attack and maul Mr. Tovar’s making certain that Mr. Tovar’s last moments were a painful, agonizing and torturous death."
Tovar was unarmed at the time of his death.
A San Jose police dog bit David Tovar as he lay dying.
Anthony Paredes, San Jose
San Jose police deployed a K-9 named Tex on Anthony Paredes, a 41-year-old man who was accused of threatening to cut a Safeway employee in February 2020 after his girlfriend stole two bottle of tequilla.
The police dog shredded his windpipe and fractured his thyroid cartilage.
"He lost something," Paredes' aunt, Leticia Salazar, said in a recent interview. "He lost that little kick. He lost that happy-go-lucky guy that he was."
Paredes has sued the city of San Jose alleging excessive force.
San Ramon deployed a K9 on Uber driver Ali Badr after he missed a car payment.
Ali Badr, San Ramon
Uber driver Ali Badr was driving a rented 2017 Toyota Camry through San Ramon in December 2020, when police pulled him over and surrounded his car with their guns drawn.
According to body-camera footage and a lawsuit he subsequently filed, Badr followed their orders and exited the car.
But as Badr briefly lowered his hands in an apparent attempt to put his shoes on, one of the officers let loose a police dog named Dexter, which sank its teeth into Badr’s arm and continued to grip it for close to a minute, causing Badr to scream in agony.
Badr, who claims he was not armed, required multiple surgeries on his arm.
Badr had rented the car through a company serving gig workers and he said the car’s owner had reported the vehicle stolen after he was late making payments.
Badr filed a federal lawsuit in January 2022 against the city of San Ramon, its police chief, K-9 handler John Cattolico and six other officers.
The allegations include excessive force, assault and battery, and violation of civil rights.
Badr said he believes he was treated differently because he is North African and was perceived to be Muslim.
Melissa Silva, Santa Clara
Melissa Silva was out for a walk with her small Pomeranian named "Chapo" in July 2022 when she ventured onto a soccer field near Levi’s stadium.
The seemingly harmless move quickly turned violent when a Santa Clara police dog off its leash rushed her "out of nowhere," she said, and began a vicious attack.
"It’s surreal. It’s unreal," Silva, 42, told KTVU in an interview Monday after being released from the hospital following the episode. "I can’t believe the dog would just do that. He wasn’t commanded to attack. He just attacked and I don’t know why."
Silva was taken in an ambulance to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with several puncture wounds to her left arm. She was released on Sunday and may need surgery and physical therapy.
Emanuel Trujillo was bit by a police dog in Santa Cruz. He was not the burglar.
Emanuel Trujillo, Santa Cruz
Emanuel Trujillo sued the city of Santa Cruz after a police dog bit him on the hand.
A neighbor had called 911 to report a burglary in April 2021 and Trujillo returned home with his girlfriend to see what was happening.
As he was pulling into the driveway, the real burglar exited and Trujillo confronted the suspect, the lawsuit said.
The suspect threw a bottle at Trujillo and ran away, but Trujillo cornered him near a garage.
When police arrived, an officer sicced his dog on him, thinking he was the criminal when he in fact was not, the lawsuit contends.
A police sergeant arrived on scene and told the other officers that Trujillo was not the suspect and to release him.
The case settled for about $75,000.
Anton Frank Barrett, Vallejo
Anton Frank Barrett Jr., then 19, sued the city of Vallejo after he was bitten by a police dog named Yago, shot and Tased by police and forced to see the death of his father on May 28, 2012.
Vallejo police had pulled over his father, Anton Barrett Sr., for not having his headlights on.
The father didn’t stop for police and a chase ensued.
Both father and son jumped out of the car and ran.
The son hid in some bushes and was ultimately bitten by Yago and his father ran into a breezeway between two apartment buildings.
Police shot at the father five times and he died. He was unarmed as was his son. A police officer was also bitten by Yago.
Barrett Jr. won $235,000 from the city.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was last updated on Aug. 2, 2022.
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez. Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at Evan.Sernoffsky@foxtv.com and follow him on Twitter @evansernoffsky.