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Judge Rules Dog Walker's Constitutional Rights Violated When Park Ranger Tasers Him

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — A federal judge ruled on Thursday against a National Park Service ranger who used a stun gun on a man for being uncooperative about his off-leash dog in an unincorporated San Mateo Park.

The incident occurred along a trail at Rancho Corral de Tierra near Montara in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, referred to as the Rancho, on Jan. 29, 2012. Gary Hesterberg, 50, of Montara filed the lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated when he argued with ranger Sarah Cavallero and gave her a false name.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the court 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 presiding judge, Jacqueline Scott Corley also found that Hesterberg, though uncooperative, never posed an immediate threat to Cavallaro.

The incident occurred soon after the Rancho became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and on the first day the leash-law was being enforced by rangers from the National Park Service.

Hesterberg was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, keeping dogs off-leash and providing false information, but San Mateo County prosecutors declined to file charges.

Hesterberg was awarded $50,000 in damages for both physical and mental suffering.

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