NPS Ranger Tases Man Walking Dogs Off-Leash

I've been known to flout a leash law or two (just ask my dog), but after reading this story I might just fall into line.

Gary Hesterberg was walking his two small dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area when a National Park Service (NPS) ranger noticed that his dogs were not leashed—a violation of federal law. So Ranger Sally (her real name hasn't been released, but I think this one has a nice ring to it) leapt into action and asked Hesterberg for identification.

According to an NPS spokesperson, Hesterberg had no identification and allegedly provided a false name. Ranger Sally told Hesterberg to remain at the scene, but he began to walk away. At that point, Ranger Sally "pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her Taser," said the NPS spokesperson. "That did stop him."

Gee, you think?

Hesterberg was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information.

Witness Michelle Babcock, who was walking two border collies with her husband, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Ranger Sally's actions seemed a tad excessive.

"It was really scary. I just felt so bad for him," she said, adding that Hesterberg repeatedly asked why he was being detained. "He just tried to walk away. She never gave him a reason. We were in disbelief. It didn't make any sense."

The area in which the incident took place has long been an off-leash area for dog walkers. That changed in December when it became part of the National Park system.

The NPS spokeswoman says Ranger Sally was just trying to educate Hesterberg about the new rule. I think he probably got the message, that is, once he regained control of his motor functions.

Do you think the ranger used excessive force? Or could there be more to this story?

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5 Responses to NPS Ranger Tases Man Walking Dogs Off-Leash

Richard wrote:
February 03, 2012

One can only guess as to what communication dynamics were going on between the officer and the victim, but I would think that taxing someone would be a last-ditch effort on the officer's part, and should only be used in a potentially dangerous or life-threatening situation. The officer should have simply taken down all this person's supposed personal contact information, gave him a citation on the spot, and then require the suspect to leave the area immediately. In my opinion, just going on these facts given, this officer clearly used excessive force.

Richard Rog wrote:
February 03, 2012

I think she was way out of line!!!!!!!

Ron Dodd wrote:
February 02, 2012

The guys an idiot. When the person is wearing a badge, you stop and listen, not walk away.

Left Coast Chuck wrote:
February 02, 2012

Which reinforces what folks have claimed all along that police officers use excessive force. If he were not detained for a specific reason, he should have been free to leave except in Ammerika. We are spiraling down into a full blown dictatorship IMO.

Karen wrote:
February 02, 2012

I think the park service employee needs to go to sensitivity training. Must not have very good people skills. Seems like a casual conversation and a warning would have been better for everyone involved.