By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man who was tased during a confrontation with a ranger at a national monument in New Mexico was seen climbing on and among petroglyph cliff features off-trail in violation of park regulations, according to the National Park Service.
The federal agency late Tuesday released more details and video of the interaction between the ranger and Darrell House, saying an investigation is ongoing.
The video shows the ranger telling House that Native American tribes from the area consider Petroglyph National Monument as sacred and that visitors are supposed to stay on designated trails to preserve the cultural resources and allow the desert vegetation to recover. The video also shows House, who identified himself as Navajo and Oneida, giving the ranger a fake name and trying to walk away.
Video taken by House showed the ranger asking for his identification. House told the ranger that he was back on the trail and didn’t need to provide his ID.
The ranger told House he was refusing a lawful order and would have to be detained until he could be identified. House again walked away as the ranger told him to stop. House picked up his dog in one hand and lifted up his cellphone in the other and began yelling for help as he was tased.
Video posted by House on social media shows him screaming and rolling on the ground. The ranger repeatedly asks for him to put his hands behind his back as House raises his hands and at times folds them in front of his chest while still calling for help.
House was cited for interfering with agency functions, concealing his identity and being off-trail. House did not return messages from The Associated Press. In his social media posts, he said he goes to the monument to pray and meditate.
The case has been referred to the National Park Service’s internal affairs unit. The investigation will include a review of the body camera video, the video posted on social media as well as interviews with officers, those involved and any other witnesses.
“While the incident remains under investigation, we are sharing more details and the facts as we know them in an effort to provide as much transparency as possible,” the National Park Service said in a statement. “Prior to the officer using his electronic control device, or taser, the officer attempted to resolve the interaction with an educational contact and simple warning.”
On the western edge of Albuquerque, the monument encompasses one of North America’s largest petroglyph sites. The volcanic rocks that make up the monument’s desert escarpment are covered with designs and symbols carved by early Indigenous inhabitants and later Spanish settlers.
Park officials said the cliffs are a protected, sacred archeological site, and hiking is limited to designated trails for preservation purposes.
Petroglyph National Monument has dealt over the years with vandalism that has included everything from dumping to graffiti. Officials said it’s a problem that persists nationwide, with incidents spanning from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Zion and Joshua Tree national parks in the West. Earlier this year, two Nevada men were indicted after being accused of spray-painting an ancient rock in a national monument.
In the body camera video, the ranger tells House about the graffiti problems. House said that’s not what he was doing and that he respects the place.
This story has been corrected to say the Park Service video was released late Tuesday, not Wednesday.