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Park Ranger Uses Stun Gun on Dog Walker

Park Ranger Uses Stun Gun on Dog Walker

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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Photo credit: Bobmarley753

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196 comments

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8:27PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

I wanted to sign this petition but was unable to because of the last part being hidden behind comments. Correct this please!!

2:07PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

I don't think we are getting the whole story!!! Something feels fishy about this information. Why did he give a false name, and why did he walk off?

I hope they do a full investigation and get to the bottom of this story!!!

3:48PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

cripes to shoot someone with a stun gun for not having their dogs on a leash really needs to get a life

1:29PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

Cwap! I clicked the wrong button! Never happened before! Please, don't count me in to those 15%. Yeeesh, I will have to go stand in the corner now, forever.....
Of course, I consider that to be excessive force being used in a situation like this. That park ranger need to join me in the corner! And more...

12:12AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

This is so wrong! The people who think this was ok are so messed up.

6:35PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Did he give a false name and did he tell her he had a heart condition?I think that we need to hear both sides.

9:49PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

I have to think about the other side of the story here. Mainly, because of my immense respect for Park Rangers. IMHO, Park Rangers are the very elite of law enforcement, because unlike in other areas of law enforcement, I have not noticed any of them going into the business for the purposes of abusing authority over others (although there's always a first time for everything). My experience indicates that Park Rangers truly take pride in our nation's beautiful lands and they care about protecting them. They are the last to use weapons unnecessarily, and sometimes tragedy befalls them.

Now, I'm not suggesting that this particular Park Ranger is completely innocent. I'm just saying that we should keep a little perspective and not have bad impressions of all Park Rangers, who in my eyes, are the noblest of all law enforcement.

4:54PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

precaution should of been taken, especially because he claimed to have a heart condition

3:06PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

thanks for sharing

12:56PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

There are less violent alternatives to taser for someone nonviolently and calmly walking away--seems there should be a finding of excessive force and possibly intent to injure given warning of heart condition reported. A badge does not permit any and every action an officer might choose to take--there are limits to that authority.

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