Conor Friedersdorf / The Atlantic
… In the civil-rights lawsuit Gary Hesterberg v. United States of America, the electrician sought damages for his treatment at the hands of the National Park Service. In response, the federal government explicitly defended the notion that it is permissible to tase an unarmed citizen in the back while enforcing something as trivial as an off-leash violation (in a wilderness area where off-leash dogs were tolerated for years). During testimony, Hunter Bailey, the deputy chief of law enforcement for the National Park Service, maintained that a park ranger would be legally justified in tasing even “a 9-year-old girl” or “a pregnant woman” if they were caught walking a dog off leash and tried to leave the scene against a ranger’s orders, as Hesterberg did. This institutional mindset leads directly to violent civil-rights violations, as a federal court ultimately ruled in this important suit. The National Park Service now owes the jogger that it victimized $50,000 in damages. And law enforcement is on notice that the Constitution forbids tasing so needlessly.