Park ranger cleared in probe of dog walker arrest
Ranger was reported to have deployed a less lethal device on a man detained for walking an unleashed dog
MONTARA, Calif. — The National Park Service says a ranger didn't violate policy when she used a stun gun to subdue a man she had detained for walking at least one of his dogs without a leash in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The park service's Office of Professional Responsibility cleared ranger Sarah Cavallaro of potential discipline in April, Rep. Jackie Speier told the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday. She released a letter she received from Frank Dean, the general superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, in June in which Dean said Cavallaro's use of the stun gun was "within policy and consistent with the training she received."
Park officials have said Cavallaro used a stun gun on Hesterberg near Montara in San Mateo County on Jan. 29 after Hesterberg gave her a false name and refused repeated orders to remain at the scene. Cavallaro had stopped Hesterberg, 51, because at least one of his dogs was off leash in violation of park rules.
Speier said she has been trying to get the park service to discuss its findings with the public since April but has been told they are confidential. She said the park service owes people an explanation about what happened.
Using a stun gun on a dog walker "reeks of inappropriate use of power," she said. "And the way the (park service) has handled it since they've completed the investigation reflects a sense of arrogance."
A call to park service spokesman Howard Levitt by The Associated Press on Wednesday was not immediately returned. But Levitt told the Chronicle a 1974 federal privacy law that protects employee personnel records prevented him from releasing information about the investigation.
Witnesses to the incident reported that Hesterberg repeatedly asked why he was being detained but did not get an answer, according to the Chronicle.
Hesterberg's attorney, Michael Haddad, said his client was told by Cavallaro that the Constitution allowed her to hold him. He had turned to walk away when he was hit with the stun gun in the back, according to witnesses. He was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and providing false information, but San Mateo County prosecutors declined to charge him.
Haddad filed a $500,000 claim with the park service last month — a precursor to a lawsuit.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press