Speaking of dummies in the federal government, some of them seem to think it’s OK to enforce dog-walking regulations with less lethal weaponry. At least they do around San Francisco, that bastion of peace, love, tolerance and gun control. Just ask Gary Hesterberg who was out walking a couple of teacup poodles, Malteses or some such walking scrub brushes. His mistake: he was in an area that had recently become part of the national park system. . .

sfgate.com has the sordid details of what happened when the (of course) unidentified National Park Service Ranger stopped Hesterberg for, apparently, walking his dogs off leash:

A Montara man walking two lapdogs off leash was hit with an electric-shock gun by a National Park Service ranger after allegedly giving a false name and trying to walk away, authorities said Monday.

The ranger, who wasn’t identified, asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, Levitt said. He tried several times to leave, and finally the ranger “pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her” electric-shock weapon, Levitt said. “That did stop him.”

More specifically, she shot him in the back with her Taser as he tried to make a furious getaway at the speed of a sauntering Lhasa Apso. But don’t think of what happened as a power-crazed Rangerette wantonly using disproportionate force against a guy out for a stroll with a couple of small pups. Think of it instead as “resident eduction.”

Rancho Corral de Tierra has long been an off-leash walking spot for local dog owners. In December, the area became part of the national park system, which requires that all dogs be on a leash, Levitt said.

The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule, (Park Service spokesman Howard) Levitt said.

Hesterberg’s ‘eduction’ included charges of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information. It’s a good thing the dogs didn’t take a dump in an unauthorized area or he might have been educated to death.

61 Responses to OMG! OMG! A dog! In a park! OMG!

  1. I am not sure it is OK for a citizen to just ignore a Law Enforcement Officer. I suppose the dogwalker could say “look, arrest me or sod off” or some such.

    Ralph – anyone – what does the law say? Can you break off a discussion with a LEO when you see fit if you are not under arrest? What is the legally defensible thing to do?

    • “Am I under arrest?”

      If they say “Yes.” You’re done.

      If they say anything else, you can leave. Tasering may or may not ensue. As far as I understand it, unless they place you under arrest or, as they sometimes like to say “Detain” you, you are under no legal duty to stay and talk with the officer.

      God, I hope theres a nasty law suit over this. This is very upsetting to me.

      • It sounds like she was going to write him a ticket, and he started walking away. If you were pulled over by a cop, then asked if you’re under arrest, and then drove off when he said “no”, what do you think would happen then? Honestly, this is more of a clear cut case of being disrespectful to a LEO. If they have a gun on their hip, and a badge… listen when they lecture you, even if you don’t agree, it’ll usually get you out of the ticket. I suspect we don’t know the whole story here.

        • Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think simple “contempt of cop” justifies being shot in the back with a tazer.

        • During a traffic stop you are being detained you aren’t being arrested. You are not free to leave if you are being detained.

          Gun and a badge or not, if I ask if I’m being detained and they say no, then I politely leave. Sticking around to be lectured for something I’m not being detained for is a waste of my time.

      • “If I’m not under arrest, or being detained, I’ll be on my way officer. Good day to sir”

        Been there done it. I have nothing to say to police.

    • Ask if you are being detained, or if you are free to leave. If you are being detained it means you may have broken a law, even a chicken sh*t law. They then have the right to keep you from leaving and using “justifiable force” to keep you detained. If they say they “just want to talk” with out you being detained, you can walk away. If there is no legal reason for a detention, asking questions of you is a way to find a legal reason. Just don’t be an ass, don’t act aggressive, and keep your hands visible. If you do any of these, you are giving more reason to form a legal detention or legal reason to conduct a pat down for “safety” reasons..

  2. He tried several times to leave, and finally the ranger “pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her” electric-shock weapon, Levitt said. “That did stop him.” … “The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule …”

    Well, thank God for the Rangers of the National Park Service! Without this kind of proactive policing and education, we would see RAMPANT LEASHLESS DOG WALKING in our sacred National Parks!!!!!!!!! He’s just lucky the fearless Ranger didn’t pull iron and shoot his lawless butt!!! You better believe this blatant criminal Hesterberg has now been educated!!!!!! [sarc off]

  3. I am sure we will hear something about how the park ranger was in fear for her life from the teacup poodles….this is just too funny. The even better thing is the only way you would actually get outrage from the San-Fran types is if the ranger tazered the poodle.

    Seriously, detailed for walking a dog off of the leash? Whats next detained for parking too close to the curb? Detained for failing to trim your hedges?

  4. This ranger must have seen the vid from DC and just wanted to get her tazer freak on. Cant blame her really, I mean who wants to walk along side of someone and talk to them, when you can stand over and talk down to them.

  5. So tasers have progressed from defensive weapons to offensive weapons rather nicely. At least she didn’t shoot him ten times at close range for assaulting her with his dogs.

  6. Wow, that’s one butch beyotch. Obviously, either she’s not a dog lover, or the guy with his hair standing on end caught her at the wrong time.

    If the, ahem, LEO was just wanting to give our hero a lecture, then he was in his rights to tell her to pound sand (ever so nicely), and he was also within his rights to leave. If she was trying to serve him, then no, he had to wait there and take it. An appearance ticket is issued in lieu of an arrest. If she wanted to see his ID so she could write the ticket, then he had to give it to her or the “in lieu of” would be taken out of play and the “arrest” would be on the menu. If she was trying to get his ID for her girlfriend, then he was entitled to say nay.

    Given the predilections of some LEOs to shoot the dogs first, I’d say little Flopsy and Mopsy got off lucky. To the unnamed dog owner and soon to be PETA’s man of the year, I say “way to take one for the team.”

  7. There’s “arrest” in the official sense, which requires probable cause to suspect you’ve committed a crime, and then there’s “detention,” which, while short of arrest, is very much a physical seizure from which you are not free to walk away. You may be placed in cuffs while the officer sorts out the situation and decides whether to arrest you or not. Detention still requires reasonable suspicion (specific and articulable facts that suggest a crime being committed). The LEO is allowed to frisk you for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion of that, which is not really a very high bar to meet, evidence-wise.

    Use of less-lethal arms like tasers is dictated by the agency policy, which in this case I don’t know what it looks like. However, in general “police officers may use the amount of force that is ‘objectively reasonable’ to control subjects during a lawful seizure.” Objectively reasonable based on the information that was available to the LEO at the time, that is.

    I’m guessing lesser measures like an empty hand pain compliance technique were not available to her. I’ve been practicing jujitsu for almost 20 years and it’s just not always that easy to make a guy submit who’s bigger than you. Assuming this stop was a lawful seizure, and that mean old dog walker still didn’t think the lady ranger’s badge was authority enough for him, the ranger was authorized to use reasonable force to back up her words and make him sit like a good boy.

  8. This is the perfect example of the problem with TASERs, they are less lethal, not non-lethal, but now they are used in almost every situation. Anybody ever see the video of that jackass running around the field during some sports game? He was ring chased by a bunch of people and he knew he was about to be tackled so he dove to the ground and the rent a cop giving chase immediately TASER’d him. He had clearly given up but they still hit him with it.

    • As I recall, they were originally sold as something that would replace the use of a firearm in certain self-defense scenarios. Instead we now see them being routinely deployed to enforce compliance.

  9. Look on the bright side, folks: At least she didn’t shoot the dogs. It seems it has become fashionable for cops to shoot people’s dogs and then proclaim afterwards that the dog was a threat to a cop.

  10. Clearly the dogs are not the problem here, as the title of the post seems to be insinuating.
    Too many of you seem to be glossing over the part about providing false information and walking away. Chances are when he went to leave the officer told him to stop and he ignored her. Even if you personally believe the law is crap and don’t respect the legal authority of the officer, doesn’t mean you can just ignore him/her. Basically it sounds like the guy got stopped and talked to for having his dogs loose where they shouldn’t be. Also sounds as if initially there wasn’t going to be a citation, just some education. The citations and arrest stemmed from his ignoring the officer, and purposefully providing false info to her.
    I agree that tasering, especially in the back, was probably too much. But I believe it fairly safe to assume that it wouldn’t have gone that far if the man had cooperated initially like is required by law, and generally the responsible thing to do.

    • “But I believe it fairly safe to assume that it wouldn’t have gone that far if the man had cooperated initially like is required by law, and generally the responsible thing to do.”

      But I believe it fairly safe to assume that it wouldn’t have gone that far if the slave had cooperated initially like is required by his masters…
      -or this-
      But I believe it fairly safe to assume that it wouldn’t have gone that far if the state-sanctioned thug hadn’t tried to impose her will on a free man over something that was harming nothing and no one…

      Choose your worldview.

      • Did you really just equate laws to slavery? Why not go all the way and equate law enforcement to being a Nazi?
        That is a pretty impressive stretching of the reality of the situation.
        Slaves had (have)no choice in the matter, this man clearly did. He could have gone somewhere where his dogs are legally allowed to run free, he chose not to. He chose to enter the park thereby agreeing to follow the rules. When he was stopped and an official attempted to explain the rules he chose to disrespect their authority, and then chose to lie about his identity. When asked to stop he chose to ignore the request.
        There are consequences to any action or choice. And while I don’t think there was a necessity to taser the individual it is clear that his choices lead to that outcome. Do you not agree?
        If you don’t like a rule or law, fight to change it. Probably best not to break it, then compound the problem by breaking more laws. What does an individual have to gain from that?

  11. Why is it, on topics like this, most here recognize that the law is ridiculous and it’s enforcement unjust, yet when we discuss CCW or mandatory CCW training, we have folks spouting the statist mantra of “the law is the law?”

    Regardless of the issue, “laws repugnant to the Constitution are void” and a free man has no obligation to obey them.

    • a free man has no obligation to obey them.

      So don’t.

      I’ll reactivate my license and defend you. The defense will be your right to break any law that you think violates the Constitution. Just two things: First, I want my counsel fees in advance. Second, I’ll do my best to see that you’re sent to a prison where I can visit you from time to time, but I’m making no promises.

      • It is our system of repugnant laws that attempts to enslave us in the first place. Do you honestly think that I would appeal to that very same system to recognize my freedom?

        I understand there are practical consequences to living a principled life… that doesn’t mean that I won’t try to wake people up to those principles.

        • Medications for desiring freedom? I’ve heard about that – in the US I believe it’s called “registering with the Democratic party”.

    • “Regardless of the issue, “laws repugnant to the Constitution are void” and a free man has no obligation to obey them.”

      Of course you do. Your opinion that a law is “repugnant to the Constitution”, and four dollars, will get you a mocha latte (small) at the canteen at the workhouse, where you can listen to the other residents make fun of you.

      We have a legal system that allows us a specific process with which to challenge laws that we believe are unconstitutional. Until we’ve followed that process, and convinced the court that we’re correct, a law is presumed valid.

      He was on federal land, and was subject to federal jurisdiction. He was already in clear violation of a federal statute – there was no more showing of cause needed – and so he was thus stoppable, detainable, and questionable. He tried to blow off the aurthority of an armed federal law enforcement officer and simply walk away against her commands, which is an additional, entirely separate violation.

      Unless we’ve decided that she should have called off pursuit because he was walking so fast as to be a danger to the community, she was justified in stopping him. She tried verbal instruction, which he ignored, and so she went to step 2, non-lethal force.

      Think of what we’d be creating if our system allowed him to walk away. Who would ever, for any reason, obey any cop’s orders again?

      • Here, let me paint it another way for you:

        Female federal agent says to herself, “This guy thinks he can just ignore my authority and walk away from me? I’ll fix that sh!t.”

        Also, tasers are NOT “non-lethal”. They are “less lethal”. Suppose the guy had a pacemaker? Outside odds, sure, but they’ve been implanted in teenagers. Or perhaps epilepsy? Suppose the prongs happend to penetrate a little deeper than is normal? The article states he was shot in the back; we may safely assume this to be the heart/lung region. Suppose she caused a heart attack, or paralyzed his diaphragm? All over a simple contempt of cop, brought on by this man’s ignorance of a change in status of the land he normally walks his dogs on. Time to be intellectually honest and admit that this ranger f^cked up. Don’t worry, though; she won’t face any discipline.

        • By what logic or facts do you conclude that this was an egotistical power play on the part of the author, as opposed to a good faith effort to execute her duty?

          And on what do you base your conclusion that those who disagree with you are intellectually dishonest?

          How about some facts or references on lethality of tasers? I’d bet dollars to donuts that tasers have saved vastly more lives than they’ve taken.

        • “I’d bet dollars to donuts that tasers have saved vastly more lives than they’ve taken.”

          Are we talking worthless peasant lives or the highly valuable LEO lives? I have no doubt that police departments and federal agencies will claim that using tasers to torture and occasionally kill has “saved” many LEO lives (the only ones that matter), but that’s taking a massive leap of faith and trusting the criminal to accurate report on his crimes.

        • “How about some facts or references on lethality of tasers?”

          Have at it:

          http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=pfwl&cp=7&gs_id=o&xhr=t&q=taser+deaths&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&safe=off&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=taser+d&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=fd13693318f97430&biw=1688&bih=890

          Three in one weekend back in August. Intellectual honesty has nothing to do with my opinion, and everything to do with basing your own opinion on available facts.

      • “We have a legal system that allows us a specific process with which to challenge laws that we believe are unconstitutional.”

        No, we don’t. We have a legal system where those with extremely large amounts of money and the luxury of not needing to work for a living have a specific process with which to challenge laws that are unconstitutional.

        If we eliminated the millions of dollars required to bring forth such a lawsuit, many of our laws would be overturned quite quickly.

        • A substantial portion of the U.S. Supreme Court cases every year are criminal-law cases, brought on behalf of indigent defendants. If you truly have a constitutional issue in your criminal prosecution, you’re very likely to receive lawyers and money to pursue it.

        • Except that requires being arrested and imprisoned (thus losing your right to bear arms). If only the people who are A) rich or B) imprisoned have a chance to to change the laws, then that leaves the majority of the populations SOL.

        • Well, actually, to contest the constitutionality of a criminal law, I think you have to be charged with a violation of it, or you don’t have any standing to pursue a case. Thus, if you look through the lawbooks at all of the big-name, principle-establishing criminal law cases, it’s always “State v. Gonzolez”, or “State v. Washington” or other such names that we’d usually associate with members of racial minorities.

      • “He was on federal land, and was subject to federal jurisdiction. He was already in clear violation of a federal statute”…

        I guess he could make the constitutional argument that the federal government may only ” exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the erection of forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful buildings”.

        Given that the federal government doesn’t have constitutional authority, then a National Park Service Ranger doesn’t really have authority there either.

        • Ah, but the feds also get this: “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States . . . ”

          Since federal parkland has to be initially conveyed to the SecInt through the use of a title, the park counts as “other property belonging to the United States.”

          I think the actual Taser gets dual citizenship, though.

  12. Given the reputation of the .223 as a “poodle-shooter” in some quarters, I’m surprised an AR-15 didn’t enter the story at some point.

  13. “Think of what we’d be creating if our system allowed him to walk away. Who would ever, for any reason, obey any cop’s orders again?”

    Imagine indeed… too good to be true.

    • “Imagine indeed… too good to be true.”

      Yeah, for you, and for me, and for all of the drunk drivers and assaulters and rapists and violaters of the Hatch Act and illegal aliens and welfare defrauders and people who tear off those mattress tags and people who sell cotton candy without a license and Charles Manson and . . . .

      My guess is this guy was one of those “oh, sure, little lady, I’ll certainly stop right here on your command . . . tomorrow, maybe . . . ” types. If the cops had to let people walk away, their authority would be gone in a day. Obviously, since our society hires them and pays them and gives them their duties and powers, it’s in our interest that they are able to carry out those duties.

      • Actually, about those mattress tags. They say that it’s illegal for anyone other than the consumer to remove them. So if it’s your mattress, tear away to your heart’s content.

        • A lot of people fall for that old myth. It only gets you off if you’re actually consuming the mattress.

  14. Ah, the Taser…what a godsend to oppressive thugs. It allows them to hurt people and feel big while avoiding the mess of a nightstick beating or shooting.

    • As a society, we’ve decided that we need to treat people equally no matter their gender. Even though women are generally smaller and weaker then men, they’re going to be hired as cops. While we used to be able to hire great big strong tough guys as cops and then use “physically dominate the suspect” as one of the force steps, we can no longer do that. We have to set up standard procedures and expectations that all cops can realistically meet.

      Thus, the dominant voice, the arm grab, and the nightstick beating are no longer viable choices. If you wouldn’t realistically expect a 5’4″ woman to be able to do it against any suspect, you can no longer make it a required step at all.

      In addition, workers comp costs for cops go sky-high when they’re expected to do physical takedowns. The amount of money a typical large city pays out every year to support cops with blown-out backs is staggering.

      For both of these reasons, you can expect to see the graduated steps of handling suspects all begin to leap right past the old strong-arm methods. You’re going to see a leap from the “please stop, sir” step right up to the “bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttttt” stage with nothing in between.

  15. It seems like the trend is for law enforcement officers to skip a few steps in the force continuum and use tasers as a default tool of compliance.
    It sounds like this person really did break a rule, and disallowed a bit of initially reasonable “education” on the whole matter, but upped the ante by dismissing the ranger.
    Unfortunately, she was unable or unwilling to use her command voice and the referent power of her badge to gain compliance and very quickly resorted to this less-lethal weapon.

  16. First of all, those of you who’ve followed anything I’ve said on this site already know that I’m a big fan of Tasers.

    Secondly, I too have been contacted by a park ranger for the egregious crime of walking my yellow lab and Weimaraner in a park without a leash. It was a rainy day in SoCal, and we were the only ones in the regional park that had several miles of trails. Perhaps only a park ranger would warn me that a coyote would eat my dog, or that their paws would cause trail erosion, which she would later have to fix. Seriously. I pretty much told her to pound sand, and that I’m not afraid of SoCal coyotes.

    As if her epic douchebaggery was insufficient, she made us take the concrete pavement route home, which added an extra mile or more to our hike. I seriously considered giving her first – hand experience with the reality of physical confrontation, but the good Lord did not put me on this earth to start fights with women.

    Dogs need to run (except maybe the little ones, who compensate by yapping and shivering). Surely there are better laws to enforce.Cheers to this guy, who clearly told her to get lost. Sounds more like a mall security guard than a cop to me.

    • You seriously considered assaulting a person for explaining some rules and inconveniencing you? And am I also reading this correctly that the only thing that stopped this assault was the sex of the person?
      If the ranger had been a man you seem to be implying that you would have assaulted him just for explaining the rules that you chose to ignore during your hike.
      Talk about douchebaggery.

      • Stupid rules, man.

        You can’t tell me you’re excited about obeying them.

        And yes, the thought of a physical confrontation has entered my mind now and then.

        • There are quite a few people out there who think that allowing us to carry concealed weapons is a stupid rule.

          But they can’t stop us, because it’s the rule, stupid or not.

        • What makes a rule stupid, other than your opinion
          Have you ever been attacked by a dog, had a dog attacked? Ever seen anyone injured by a “friendly” dog?
          The best way to prevent these things is to keep your dog on a leash.
          Having a dog is a choice you made, you have to live with the consequences. in this instance that consequence means a few extra rules.
          As far as physically confronting a law enforcement officer, good luck with that. Chances are the officer will skip past the taser, so have fun with the anti-social behavior.

      • Actually you’re not following me correctly.

        What stopped my actions was common sense, not gender – I’m not going to assault a park ranger for enforcing a stupid rule. Stupid rules are everywhere. It doesn’t mean that we can’t call them what they are – it’s well within my first amendment rights. I also told her where to cram her little safety speech.

        My dogs are well trained and socialized. They love people, and people love them. Also, we were literally the only people in the park, aside from the ranger. Yes, we broke a rule, and no, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

        Based upon the information we have at hand, it appears that the park ranger with the taser could have left well enough alone. I seriously doubt she was in danger.

        • And I quote – “I seriously considered giving her first – hand experience with the reality of physical confrontation, but the good Lord did not put me on this earth to start fights with women.”
          I’d say I followed you exactly as you wrote it.

          This statement implies nothing of being stopped by common sense.

      • Perhaps you should read the sfgate link, and the eyewitness statements regarding excessive force on the dog walker before blasting my comments as well. This was why I originally referred to the ‘mall security guard’ complex.

        Peace out. I’m getting my 2$ bills ready…

  17. The comments on the sfgate.com site were interesting in that they mostly supported the tasering of the man by the woman cop. I know SF and the Bay Area. If they situation was reversed and a male cop tasered a woman walking her dogs the community would be outraged and screaming about police over-reaction and abuse of power. The hypothetical male cop might be put on administrative leave too pending the outcome. Such is life in the upside down land of political correctness and femi-nazism.

    • Annoying, yes, it is. but in all fairness, American bicyclists seem to think that a bicycle is a toy, one that is immune to all traffic rules. Stop signs, lights, left right, middle-of-the-road, who gives a *&%&^%, right?

      In many parts of the world, it is a vehicle, and as such subject to the same rules as motorcycles and cars. For most but Americans, a bicycle is how you go places, other than on foot, donkey or public transportation.

      Right or wrong, dead is dead, when you bet your bike against an 18-wheeler. A drunk biker is not likely to kill someone directly; but by doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, may cause all sorts of damage.

  18. I am surprised that any responsible gun owners think it is OK to walk (or run) from a park ranger, or any other officer who is just doing their job. If a park ranger asks you to comply with the silly law, and you just walk away as if the officer is an annoying teenager, then you (might) deserve the beat-down that you will (maybe) get.

    The issue is not the leash law. The issue is that a park ranger told you to put your dogs on a leash, and you refused. She did not write the law, and she did not get to vote on how to enforce it.

    If a cop stops you and tells you to put your seat-belt on, then your job is to put your seat belt on. Don’t argue over whether the law saves lives. Don’t give the cop a fake name. Don’t negotiate over the technical definition of being detained, just put your seat belt on.

    Cops and park rangers have a few things in common in this respect: Every person they meet is assumed to be armed until proven otherwise. Anyone who disobeys an order to comply with the law, then gives a fake name, then tries to run, is taking a bunch of irresponsible risks.

    If it were your son, would you advise him to resist the law at all costs? If so, that seems like bad advice.

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