On Sunday, Gary Hesterberg was walking his two small dogs in a federal park when he was shot with a stun gun and arrested by a park ranger for having his dogs off leash and giving a false name.
Hesterberg was detained while walking in Rancho Corral De Tierra, which recently became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California and has reportedly been a common place for people to let their dogs run off leash.
Hesterberg said he didn’t have any identification on him and allegedly gave a false name. The ranger asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, but he tried to leave several times before the ranger shot him in the back.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Witnesses said the use of a stun gun and the arrest seemed excessive for someone walking two small dogs off leash.
“It was really scary,” said Michelle Babcock, who said she had seen the incident as she and her husband were walking their two border collies. “I just felt so bad for him.”
Babcock said Hesterberg had repeatedly asked the ranger why he was being detained. She didn’t answer him, Babcock said.
“He just tried to walk away. She never gave him a reason,” Babcock said.
The ranger shot Hesterberg in the back with her shock weapon as he walked off, Babcock said.
“We were like in disbelief,” she said. “It didn’t make any sense.”
Other reports indicate that Hesterberg also warned the ranger that he had a heart condition and using the taser could be life threatening.
“It appears the incident began as one of several educational contacts that day about the NPS rules on dog-walking,” said Howard Levitt, the recreation area’s communications director. “But this one developed into a more serious law enforcement situation when the person being contacted provided false information.”
Citizens and dog advocate groups have since asked the National Park Service to complete a full investigation and to stop ticketing dog owners.
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