It all started as “began as a routine educational contact about the National Park Service rules on dog walking,” and that statement is from the National Park Service themselves.
Gary Hesterberg has two small dogs and he has walked them for a long time in the Rancho Corral de Tierra area. As his two dogs are very well trained, he walks them off-leash which is technically referred to as Voice Control Dog Walking.
So when a park ranger started to give him a lot of grief over walking his dogs off leash, Gary just turned to walk away. The guard was very irate and demanded Gary to identify himself and called over the radio to confirm his identity while also asking for backup.
The ranger warned Gary that she would use a Taser on him if he attempted to leave. Gary just wanted to avoid any confrontation, told the Ranger he had a heart problem and walked away.
The ranger tased him anyway, even though he told her about his heart problem. The NPS calls this “routine educational contact” and it makes total sense giving the government’s track record with the TSA agent training and their “educational contact” with airline passengers.
When backup arrived, Gary was arrested because he lied about his name and for refusing an order by a ranger; not even a ticket being issued for the dog walking. Yes, according to witnesses, Gary was tased before the ID confirmation came back.
Gary was in the right for walking his dogs off-leash.
First of all, the Rancho Corral de Tierra area was not under control of the NPS (National Parks Service) until late in December. The NPS did not adequately post the new area and made absolutely no concerted effort to “educate” people who use the area on a daily basis on the new rules via PSAs (Public Service Announcements).
Going to the Golden Gate National Recreation site, you can find the section on walking dogs under Park Management. You can see that the dog walking program is in the state of flux and there is yet another Dog Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under evaluation. It is all confusing.
Going to the current Dog Walking in the GGNRA section, the first thing you see is the “Areas Open For On Leash or Voice Control Dog Walking” heading and then you see a baffling list of areas within the system all with different rules.
Burried in the San Mateo County there is a mention of Rancho Corral de Tierra for “On Leash Dog Walking Only” but it looks like this section was updated on January 3rd at 5:55 pm, just after the changeover.
This is very well and good, but who is going to check the NPS web site for a park that you have been going to for years that was not part of the NPS system? No one!
Even if Gary had known about the rule changes, tasing him for walking away from an “educational contact” is just an abuse of power.
State Representative Jackie Speier wrote to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area head: “Many of my constituents are understandably angered by what appears to be an excessive use of force by a park ranger. From the information I have to date, it does not appear that the use of a Taser was warranted.”
The unidentified park ranger needs a whole lot of remedial education on under what circumstances she can use the Taser. I recommend that she be tased repeatedly in the back so she can really be educated in what this can do to a person. Or else, send her to the TSA – they can use some new talent.