Mark Noack / Half Moon Bay Review
A National Park Service ranger overstepped her authority when she subdued a Montara man with a stun gun during an encounter over his unleashed dog, according to a federal court ruling published on Thursday. … Montara resident Gary Hesterberg was awarded $50,000 in damages for his emotional and mental suffering – a fraction of the $500,000 he originally requested. His attorney, Michael Haddad, pointed out that the case was more about the principles than winning a hefty sum. “We ended up doing this case practically for free, but there were important principles at stake,” he said. “We were trying to protect other people who would be tased under these unlawful procedures.” … Federal Judge Jacqueline Corley of the Northern District Court of California found that the ranger used excessive force and acted unreasonably given thesituation. In part, this error was due to the federal park system’s own vague enforcement policies, she stated. … “On their face (the policies) provide no guidance for the court – not to mention DOI and NPS officers,” she wrote. “They are, essentially, standardless policies, devoid of any rules for dealing with fleeing subjects.” Haddad, Hesterberg’s attorney, said the court ruling should prod the agencies to bring their policies into compliance with the case law.