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Update: Man Stunned with Taser, Arrested After Trying to Leave Scene of Leash Law Violation

Park ranger told him to remain on scene several times before deploying weapon.

The latest on this story is available . 

Update, 6:42p.m.

The San Francisco Chronicle published new information.

According to the Chronicle, Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the parks service, said Gary Hesterberg was hit with a Taser after he gave a false name to a park ranger and tried to walk away from the scene of a suspected crime. 

The spokesman told the Chronicle that Hesterberg was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, knowingly providing false information and having dogs off-leash in a part of the park where it is prohibited. 

Levitt said the park ranger deployed her Taser only after she told Hesterburg to remain on the scene several times and pursued him for a while. 

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and paramedics then responded to the scene and Hesterberg gave his real name, the Chronicle reported. 

Original post

A National Parks ranger allegedly shocked a Montara resident with a Taser and arrested him after an argument about his off-leash dog in the Rancho Corral de Tierra open space escalated Sunday afternoon. 

According to the Half Moon Bay Review, the incident allegedly occurred at 4:45p.m near the southern edge of McNee Ranch State Park, when the ranger stopped the man for letting one of his dogs off-leash, which is not allowed on certain parts of the property managed by the National Parks Service. 

The National Parks Service has not responded to the media at this time about the incident and the alleged arrest and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office says it does not have a report on the incident, despite the fact that the Half Moon Bay Review reports that a sheriff's deputy transported the man to county jail. 

Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Larry Schumaker said he could confirm that the National Parks Service had booked a man into jail in Redwood City shortly before 5p.m. yesterday, however. 

The man's wife contacted the Montara Dog Group after the incident looking for witnesses who could shed some light on what had happened to her husband, who hadn't returned that evening after the dogs were returned to her. 

"My husband took our two dogs out running late this afternoon, and the dogs were returned about 20 minutes ago by a couple of other dog walkers because my husband was detained by park security for having one of the dogs off leash," she wrote to the group in an email. "They couple that brought them home said my husband has subsequently been detained and Tasered when the person wouldn't identify themselves and Tasered him. I've determined it was a federal park police (I'm told) and he is being arrested. I was in such a panic that I didn't get their names or anything."

She has not yet responded to Pacifica Patch's call about the incident. 

Bill Bechtell, another Montara resident and founder of the Montara Dog Group, said he talked to the man who was arrested today. He said the man told him he'd been released at 1a.m. this morning.

Michelle Babcock said she witnessed the incident, and provided Bechtell with a detailed account.

"Since she [the ranger] did not respond as to why he was being detained nor tell him the type of jurisdiction she had over him, he started to walk away and she told him that she would tase him if he walked another step," Babcock wrote. "The man replied that he had a heart condition and to not taser him as it could be life threatening. He gave her his back to look at me and my husband in disbelief to what was going on and the park ranger fired her taser at him. The poor man fell to floor and you could see that he was in a lot a pain."

Stay tuned for updates. 

Karin Meiswinkel January 31, 2012 at 01:20 AM
If that Witness's report is accurate, then this Park Ranger was way out of line with her actions. This State is broken enough without incidents like this occurring with authority happy people in positions like this. What is wrong with conducting themselves in a professional, friendly manner and communicating properly? Identifying their jurisdiction and issuing a warning should be a given. The tax paying public are not their enemies for heaven's sake!
Rebecca Lorenz January 31, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Think I'll wait for the whole story. Too many holes here, it makes no sense.
nancy strachan west January 31, 2012 at 02:45 AM
This story both saddens and angers me. It is clear that the female park ranger acted in an overly aggressive and authoritative manner and was way out of line to taser the older man to get her point across. She needs to be held accountable for her actions. Are there signs on the mountain that delineate the off leash from the on leash areas? If not, how is a person to know where the lines are? This is not the dog friendly place I moved to 12 years ago, where we could take our well trained dogs off leash and run them without fear of being ticketed, shot with a taser gun and/or arrested.
Camden Swita January 31, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Hi Rebecca, The Chronicle just released their story, and NPS did get back to them. Check out the update above. Camden
Bob Poole January 31, 2012 at 03:23 AM
There is no excuse for tasing someone when there is no threat of aggression.The National Park Service has not been a benevolent steward of GGNRA. I knew there would be problems when they took over in this area. This ranger certainly deserves to be punished for her actions. I hope it will be more than just a reprimand.
CQ January 31, 2012 at 08:01 AM
According to these published reports, put the blame for being tased where it belongs--on the dog walker for providing this uniformed peace officer with a false name and failing to submit to arrest. Had he given his true name, he probably would have been only given a warning, maybe a citation but not being physically arrested. He was the one responsible for escalating the incident and the subsequent use of force not the NPS Ranger!
Bhatman January 31, 2012 at 08:07 AM
The story makes this person sound like a poor old man with with a heart condition, when in fact he is long distance runner who ran the double dipsea last june. I guess lying to a federal law enforcement officer who was just doing her job was ok because, well dog-ownership imparts special privileges. Just a few weeks ago another female ranger was shot dead during a routine traffic stop up in Alaska. It sounds like these Montara dog owners who have fought GGNRA tooth and nail are trying hard to paint this public servant as the law breaker but we're not buying it,
Carol Wexler January 31, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Unless this older gentleman was threatening the ranger or someone else at the scene there is absolutely no reason why the ranger should have tasered the gentleman! The ranger was way out of line no matter what was going on. As Bob Poole said there is no excuse for tasing someone when there is no threat of aggression!! Walking a dog off leash is not a felony. GGNRA has just recently taken over this area and I think they need a little patients with the residents until everyone knows what the rules are. I know the rules and I don't use the area anymore. But maybe there are some that need to have the new rules explained by the rangers. By friendly rangers that knows how to talk to people not arrest people as if they are suspected of a real crime like murder. This is practicly how this man was treated. Was he even told why he was being detained? Even a murder suspect is told why they are being detained. That is the law! Are there signs up all around the park that explain no off leash dogs allowed? This ranger has acted way out of control even it this gentleman was not doing what the ranger told him to do, even if he was rude. If she was a police officer she would have had handcuffs and would have been able to detained him by putting cuffs on him and could have called for back up and gotten back up quickly. She displayed very poor judgement and her superiors will hopefully see that this is not the right job for her. She has no business working with the public.
Steven Dreith January 31, 2012 at 03:12 PM
They should put that ranger on a leash.
Butch Larroche January 31, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Me and Bhatman agree on something? The guy gave a false a name to a peace officer. That is a crime. He was walking his dog off leash, a crime. Bottom line, listen to law enforcement when they talk to you!!! I'm sure that this guy mouthed off a bit to the ranger as well.
Chris Fogel January 31, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The Chronicle version of the story was picked up by Drudge, so now it's receiving same national attention.
Karen January 31, 2012 at 04:56 PM
It's scary to see some of these comments - to realize how easily people will accept a police state. The dog was obviously not a threat to public safety. I'm outraged that my tax dollars are going for this.
mark h January 31, 2012 at 05:45 PM
The use of a taser is second only to the use of deadly force. the taser is meant for use when a suspect has become dangerous to the officer or people in the area and the officer chooses a weapon less lethal than their side arm (pistol). these are the guidelines given to all officers that use the taser.
Bob Poole January 31, 2012 at 06:39 PM
To those of you who feel the ranger was justified using the taser, ask yourself if she would have been justified shooting him in the back with her firearm if he had managed to get beyond taser range? Let's hope she doesn't get confused and pull her gun instead of the taser as happened in the Bart shooting. Come on folks, we are talking about an incident where there was no threat of violence, an incident over a dog walking infraction in an area where people have been walking their dogs off leash forever, Perhaps Arlo Guthrie will write a sequel to Alice's Restaurant about this,
Dogbert January 31, 2012 at 06:52 PM
"The story makes this person sound like a poor old man with with a heart condition, when in fact he is long distance runner who ran the double dipsea last june." Well then, kudos to the ranger for having the presence of mind to make a positive ID on the dog walker as someone who did not have heart problems and in fact was a double Dipsea athlete. WOW! What incredible detective work! No wonder she zapped him. Kudos, kudos and more kudos. Heck, she ought to get a raise and a promotion. The only thing I can't quite figure out, and it is a small detail, is if the ranger did know the ID of the individual and all then what's up with this false ID claim? Butch, you really should have trusted your instincts with respect to being on the same side of the argument as Buttman.
phil fioresi January 31, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Using a taser on a guy for walking his dog off a leash is B.S. Yes he gave a false name to forgo not getting a ticket, for walking his dog, big deal. This "ranger" used force without being threatened by him that's obvious. It's a fact, people have died from being tased so what if this guy would have died? Would that have been acceptable? This woman most definitely has a problem, should not be given any weapon and should not be allowed to deal with the public, if she can't even handle this situation without putting someones life in danger.
Diet T January 31, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Batman, you must be a glutton for punishment. The dog lovers, who believe the laws don't pertain to them, are going to be relentless.
Tommy Grahn January 31, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I agree that the taser is way over the line of reasonable actions she should have taken. But, I understand the fierce, defensive actions that dog walkers take when they feel they are being mistreated. I don't care if dogs have been running around that land for years without control. The current law of the land says you can't do that. Period. Why can't these dog walkers obey the law? It's really that simple. If you're on GGNRA/NPS land you can't let your dog off leash. End of story. Learn the laws and obey them and you'll be fine. No you shouldn't be tasered like he was but he sure should have been given a ticket and fined. You just can't disregard the law.
benjamin February 01, 2012 at 12:11 AM
"But, I understand the fierce, defensive actions that dog walkers take when they feel they are being mistreated." Ah yes, of course -- in this case, the fierce, defensive action of TURNING ONES BACK AND WALKING AWAY. Tommy, part of the reason the new regs are being resisted (and ignored by some) has a lot to do with the fact that GGNRA and NPS ignored very well reasoned, extensively articulated cases (and hundreds of resident signatures in petition) for maintaining the historical standards of conduct in the space with regard to canines on and off leash. It was a poor decision on GGNRA/NPS's part, that created this situation.
Karin Meiswinkel February 01, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Oh, Pleeze People, so much has been made of this incident from opposing views. Ca. is already an overtaxed police state. Does a person with 2 small dogs (only one off leash), not two, not a Dog Walker with six, really have to be made such a case of the "law!" Pay attention to the even local stabbings & shootings, etc. which are becoming everyday news. Do some of you "he challenged the authority of an ego maniac she ranger enforcing the new law, damnit" over one small dog being off leash under new rules and nothing posted to boot in a changed area. Maybe the she ranger will make a mistake next time & shoot her gun instead of her taser weapon....ala the Bart Officer incident in the East Bay. God, people hide behind closed doors with your personal pet dogs as "the law" might mistake you for Oscar Grant and just shoot you next time! C'mon GGNRA, NPS and all the rest of you....treat the taxpaying citizens with some common sense and respect. Dog Owners are typically NOT criminal, law evading dangerous people looking for trouble.Maybe you should just forbid all dog owners from setting foot outside of their property in this great state of Cali in the US and mandate that they be allowed to hang out at the Pubs, etc.only, one of the regularities of the Europeans......they don't seem to have half the problems with dogs over there that this state creates here.....
Bhatman February 01, 2012 at 03:15 PM
i wonder if you'd be singing a different tune if the guy turned his back walked away and came back with rifle? All of a sudden that taser looks mighty weak. When a peace officer says stop you STOP regardless of the size of your dog.
ian butler February 01, 2012 at 03:48 PM
From the LA Times: "(a) ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits officers from deploying Tasers in a host of scenarios and largely limits their use to situations in which a person poses an obvious danger."
Bhatman February 01, 2012 at 04:26 PM
If he had come back up the trail after retrieving a gun from his car would it then be an obvious danger? If someone disobeys a lawful order order can we assume that their next actions will be all together lawful. It seems we are asking rangers to act on blind faith and gamble with their lives. Law enforcement in the woods us not the same as it is in urban areas, rangers have come to expect the real possibility of violence. Urbanites entering public lands need to change their mindset. When was he last time you went hiking in Mendocino forests during harvest season?
Mike Giles February 01, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Sounds like would be a very Good German.
Karin Meiswinkel February 01, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Don't make up and apply scenarios inappropriately. Police & CHP on the highways gamble with their lives every time they pull over a vehicle for whatever reason. It's realistically comes with the territory. So, should they Taser or shoot every driver or person in that car who just "might" have a rifle or gun to mandate their authority and protect themselves against a "possible event." How do you know this guy was even an "urbanite?" Are all Urbanites bad people who better stay out of the woods and don't have the right to enjoy nature? How many cases of deadly assaults on Rangers do you read about as opposed to Lay Officers in our cities and on our highways? There were even witnesses close by in this case making it far less likely subject law breaker of the brand new law, was going to run back from his car aiming a gun at said P. Ranger in this given to hyperbole concocted "what if" version. I don't know, maybe you hike in Mendocino forests during Pot Harvest, (which also doesn't make any sense) and are thus giving a very broad interpretation to a local common incident which is about in the same category as buffaloes & butterflies.
Aline Forbes February 03, 2012 at 03:47 AM
A US National Park Law Enforcement Ranger was shot in the head & chest & KILLED on January 1, 2012. She left behind 2 small children & a husband. It was a traffic stop. US National Park Rangers I believe rank 3rd in being the most assaulted federal LE officers. We take officer safety seriously!
Bob Poole February 03, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Aline, by what leap of logic do you relate your comment to the circumstances of this inccident???
Karin Meiswinkel February 03, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Well said Bob, it's really "reaching" and picking a random unfortunate incident somewhere in the US and applying it as an across the board stat as this is what happens to NP Rangers on a regular basis, therefore....this matter has been worked to death in previous posts. What is this off the wall, inappropriate behavior, about anyway? Enough!
hutch February 03, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Again, what's it the kibble?
hutch February 03, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Oops, that was my iphone autocorrect. It should be "What's in the kibble"

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