Society

California Man Headed to Trial Over Tasing for Leash-Law Violation

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California resident Gary Hesterberg was running the trails with his two dogs at Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County last year when he was stopped by a park ranger for not leashing his terrier (his other dog, a beagle, was on a leash). He reportedly tried to put the leash on the dog when he saw her coming, but apparently that wasn't enough.

When the ranger, Sarah Cavallaro, would not let Hesterberg walk away after a verbal warning, he accused her of unlawful detainment and attempted to leave anyway. She tased him, and he collapsed to the ground. Then police came to arrest him, and detained him for eight hours.

Hesterberg is suing for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights as well as battery. The 9th Circuit could not decide his case in a summary judgment, so the plaintiff is now headed for trial.

Witness John Bartlett described the scene to the San Francisco Chronicle: “He said something about ‘are you going to arrest me,’ something like that, and the next thing I heard was a shot and a scream of agony from him as he fell on his back. He seemed to be out for two or three minutes.”

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Bartlett also said, “It did rattle me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m 77 years old, never had such an emotional reaction to something. I didn’t know if the guy was dying. For a leash on a dog…”

According to Hesterberg, 50, he warned the ranger prior to the Tasing that he had a heart condition.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley would not grant a summary judgment, claiming that the court "cautioned that summary judgment in excessive force cases 'should be granted sparingly.'"

She noted that that she could not “conclude as a matter of law - as opposed to making findings of facts - that Hesterberg's interest in being free from an intermediate level of force outweighed the government's interest in arresting a warned, fleeing, nonviolent, nonserious misdemeanant, who posed no threat to an officer or the public."

So now, the case will be in a jury’s hands.

Sources: Courthouse News, KQED