ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — A Native American man who regularly visits the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico claims he was assaulted by a park ranger over the weekend.
Darrell House posted a video that gives a glimpse of what he says was an unjustified tasing. The National Park Service said Tuesday that the incident is under investigation.
House said he was walking through the Petroglyphs at the Piedra Mercado trail with his dog, Geronimo, when he saw a large group of visitors on the trail ahead, so he decided to cut through the blocked-off area to maintain social distancing. He said he’s never had an issue leaving the trail before, but this time, a ranger came up behind him and advised him to get back on the designated path. House said he complied, and the ranger began asking for identification, but House refused.
That’s when, House said, the ranger Tased him.
“I was holding my dog, so my dog got Tased as well, he felt the shock, he felt everything. I ended up dropping him when I fell,” said House.
Monday, House said he’s still trying to wrap his mind around the situation, but he can only come up with one reason why the ranger reacted the way he did: “He wanted to show power, dominance, keep me in order. That’s what authority figures are trained to do, to keep people like me in order. To make the ‘Indian’ look crazy, to make them look insane.”
House said the incident won’t stop him from returning to the monument.
“I will go back. I am going to continue to do my prayers, going off-trail without permission. Without consent. That is my right,” he said.
House was not arrested, but he was given three citations by the federal park ranger for interfering with agency function, false information, and being off-trail. The national park website does ask all visitors to remain on the trail at all times. House said he believes those rules should not apply to him because he’s Native American.
The National Park Service released the following statement in response:
On December 27, a law enforcement park ranger contacted two visitors who were walking in a closed area off-trail, which is a violation of National Park Service regulations within Petroglyph National Monument. A video capturing part of their interaction and posted to social media has generated question and interest from the public.
In accordance with National Park Service policy, this incident is under review and has been referred to the NPS Office of Professional Responsibility, our internal affairs unit, for a thorough investigation. While we work to gather the facts of this specific situation, we cannot speculate on the events leading up to what was captured on video. We take any allegation of wrongdoing very seriously, and appreciate the public’s patience as we gather the facts of this incident.
Full performance NPS law enforcement officers complete extensive law enforcement training programs along with many other Federal law enforcement agencies at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia, as well as on-the-job training in the NPS Field Training and Evaluation Program. Throughout their careers, officers complete required annual training to ensure skills proficiency and current knowledge of law enforcement issues. Additionally, NPS officers are required to undergo initial and ongoing specialized training to carry an electronic control device, commonly known as Tasers.NATIONAL PARK SERVICE