- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge ruled against a National Park Service ranger who used a stun gun on a man for being uncooperative about his off-leash dog in Northern California.

Gary Hesterberg of Montara filed a lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated in the Jan. 2012 incident, when he argued with ranger Sarah Cavallaro, and gave her a false name.

The court on Thursday conceded that while lying to a police officer is not an offense to be taken lightly, there is nothing inherently dangerous about it - especially in connection to a warning about a leash law violation.

The court also found that Hesterberg, though uncooperative, never posed an immediate threat to Cavallaro. Hesterberg was awarded $50,000 in damages for physical and mental suffering.

Cavallaro was explaining new rules at the Rancho Corral de Tierra to Hesterberg, 50, but the two began arguing and the ranger used a Taser after he ignored her orders and tried to walk away.

Hesterberg was allegedly walking his dogs without leashes in violation of the park’s rules, which weeks before had been incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Part of Cavallaro’s duty on the day of the confrontation was to “take an ‘educational approach or soft enforcement’ with regards to violations of the Rancho’s new rules,” according to court documents, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The case received national attention when U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier of California criticized the National Park Service for refusing to publicly discuss its decision to clear Caravallo of wrongdoing and questioned the training park rangers receive for stun-gun use.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, https://www.sfgate.com

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