A Montara man will get his day in court next week over allegations that a park ranger used excessive force when he was subdued with a Taser during an encounter over his unleashed dog.
The plaintiff in the case, Gary Hesterberg, is seeking damages for the pain and the “long-term emotional stress” he suffered as a result of being shocked. The case centers on an infamous encounter in early 2012 at Rancho Corral de Tierra.
Sarah Cavallaro, a ranger with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, stopped Hesterberg for walking his dog off-leash.
In her deposition for the case, Cavallaro stated that she told Hesterberg she was going to let him off on a verbal warning. She asked for his name and other information, and Hesterberg reportedly lied, saying his name was “Gary Jones.” The fake name aroused Cavallaro’s suspicions, and she refused to let him go until his identity was verified by a dispatcher.
Hesterberg became argumentative, and he attempted to walk away on two occasions, according to case records. After the second attempt, the ranger unholstered her Taser and warned him she would use it if he walked away. After being detained for several minutes, Hesterberg announced he was going to leave. As he turned to walk away, Cavallaro fired her Taser and delivered a five-second cycle of electricity. Hesterberg later described the Taser shock as among the most painful experiences he ever felt.
Federal attorneys have defended Cavallaro’s actions, saying she acted reasonably by using “intermediate force to detain an unidentified, disobedient and resistant fugitive.”
Last year, federal officials rejected a $500,000 claim filed on behalf of Hesterberg for his damages. Since then, the case has been making its way through court. Both sides so far have failed to reach a settlement in the case.
The bench trial is set to begin on Monday and continue for the next two days.